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Full text of "The works of Edgar Allan Poe;"

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THE WORKS 



OF 



EDGAR ALLAN POE 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION- AND A MEMOIR 



RICHARD HENRY STODDARD 



VOL. II 




NEW YORK 
A. a ARMSTRONG 6- SOJV 

714 B ROADWAY 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 

J. S. REDFIELD, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court, for the Southern District of New York. 

Copyright, 1876, by W. J. Widdleton. 

Copyright, 1880, by W. J. Widdleton. 

Copyright, 1882, by W. C. Bush. 

Copyright, 1884, by A. C. Armstrong & Son. 




OCT 1$ 1958 



CONTENTS. 



TALES. 

PAGE 

THE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURE OF ONE HANS PFAALL . I 

*THE GOLD-BUG -77 

THE BALLOON-HOAX , 131 

VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY . . . . 151 

MESMERIC REVELATION . 162 

THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M.'vALDEMAR . * . . 1 78 

THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE OF SCHEHERAZADE . 193 

MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 219 

A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 235 

*THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE .... 261- 

*THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET . . . . 314 

*THE PURLOINED LETTER 389 

THE BLACK CAT 417 

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER .... 432 

iTHE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 461 

THE PREMATURE BURIAL ...... 484 

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 506 

THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 516 

THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE . . , . . .527 

THE ISLAND OF THE FAY ....... 537 

THE OVAL PORTRAIT 545 

THE ASSIGNATION 550 

THE TELL-TALE HEART 568 



TALES. 



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THE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURE OF 
ONE HANS PFAALL. 



With a heart of furious fancies, 

Whereof I am commander, 
With a burning spear and a horse of air ; 

To the wilderness I wander. 

— Tom O' Bedlam's Song. 

BY late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be 
in a high state of philosophical excitement. Indeed, 
phenomena have there occurred of a nature so completely 
unexpected — so entirely novel — so utterly at variance 
with preconceived opinions — as to leave no doubt on 
my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an -uproar, all 
physics in a ferment, all reason and astronomy together 
by the ears. 

It appears that on the day of , (I am not 

positive about the date,) a vast crowd of people, for pur- 
poses not specifically mentioned, were assembled in the 
great square of the Exchange in the well-conditioned city 
of Rotterdam. The day was warm — unusually so for the 
season — there was hardly a breath of air stirring ; and the 



2 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

multitude were in no bad humor at being now and then 
besprinkled with friendly showers of momentary dura- 
tion, that fell from large white masses of cloud profusely 
distributed about the blue vault of the firmament. Never- 
theless, about noon, a slight but remarkable agitation be- 
came apparent in the assembly: the clattering of ten 
thousand tongues succeeded ; and, in an instant afterward, 
ten thousand faces were upturned toward the heavens, ten 
thousand pipes descended simultaneously from the cor- 
ners of ten thousand mouths, and a shout, which could 
be compared to nothing but the roaring of Niagara, re- 
sounded long, loudly, and furiously, through all the city 
and through all the environs of Rotterdam. 

The origin of this hubbub soon became sufficiently evi- 
dent. From behind the huge bulk of one of those sharply 
defined masses of cloud already mentioned, was seen 
slowly to emerge into an open area of blue space, a queer, 
heterogeneous, but apparently solid substance, so oddly 
shaped, so whimsically put together, as not to be in 
any manner comprehended, and never to be sufficiently 
admired, by the host of sturdy burghers who stood open- 
mouthed below. What could it be? In the name of all 
the devils in Rotterdam, what could it possibly portend ? 
No one knew ; no one could imagine ; no one— not even 
the burgomaster Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk — had 
the slightest clew by which to unravel the mystery ; so, as 
nothing more reasonable could be done, every one to 
a man replaced his pipe carefully in the corner of his 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 3 

mouth, and maintaining an eye steadily upon the phe- 
nomenon, puffed, paused, waddled about, and grunted 
significantly — then waddled back, grunted, paused, and 
finally — puffed again. 

In the meantime, however, lower and still lower tow- 
ard the goodly city, came the object of so much curiosity, 
and the cause of so much smoke. In a very few minutes 
it arrived near enough to be accurately discerned. It 
appeared to be — yes ! it was undoubtedly a species of bal- 
loon ; but surely no such balloon had ever been seen in 
Rotterdam before. For who, let me ask, ever heard of a 
balloon manufactured entirely of dirty newspapers ? No 
man in Holland certainly ; yet here, under the very noses 
of the people, or rather at some distance above their noses 
was the identical thing in question, and composed, I have 
it on the best authority, of the precise material which no 
one had ever before known to be used for a similar pur- 
pose. It was an egregious insult to the good sense of 
the burghers of Rotterdam. As to the shape of the 
phenomenon, it was even still more reprehensible. Being 
little or nothing better than a huge fool's-cap turned 
upside down. And this similitude was regarded as by 
no means lessened when, upon nearer inspection, the 
crowd saw a large tassel depending from its apex, and, 
around the upper rim or base of the cone, a circle of little 
instruments, resembling sheep-bells, which kept up a con- 
tinual tinkling to the tune of Betty Martin. But still 
worse. — Suspended by blue ribbons to the end of this 



4 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

fantastic machine, there hung, by way of car, an enormous 
drab beaver hat, with a brim superlatively broad, and 
a hemispherical crown with a black band and a silver 
buckle. It is, however, somewhat remarkable that many 
citizens of Rotterdam swore to having seen the same hat 
repeatedly before ; and indeed the whole assembly seemed 
to regard it with eyes of familiarity; while the vrow 
Grettel Pfaall, upon sight of it, uttered an exclamation of 
joyful surprise, and declared it to be the identical hat 
of her good man himself. Now this was a circumstance 
the more to be observed, as Pfaall, with three companions, 
had actually disappeared from Rotterdam about five 
years before, in a very sudden and unaccountable manner, 
and up to the date of this narrative all attempts at obtain- 
ing intelligence concerning them had failed. To be sure, 
some bones which were thought to be human, mixed 
up with a quantity of odd-looking rubbish, had been 
lately discovered in a retired situation to the east of the 
city ; and some people went so far as to imagine that 
in this spot a foul murder had been committed, and that 
the sufferers were in all probability Hans Pfaall and his 
associates. But to return. 

The balloon (for such no doubt it was) had now descend- 
ed to within a hundred feet of the earth, allowing the 
crowd below a sufficiently distinct view of the person of 
its occupant. This was in truth a very singular somebody. 
He could not have been more than two feet in height ; 
but this altitude, little as it was, would have been suf- 






ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 5 

ficient to destroy his equilibrium, and tilt him over the 
edge of his tiny car, but for the intervention of a circular 
rim reaching as high as the breast, and rigged on to the 
cords of the balloon. The body of the little man was 
more than proportionally broad, giving to his entire 
figure a rotundity highly absurd. His feet, of course, 
could not be seen at all. His hands were enormously 
large. His hair was gray, and collected into a queue be- 
hind. His nose was prodigiously long, crooked, and in- 
flammatory ; his eyes full, brilliant, and acute ; his chin 
and cheeks, although wrinkled with age, were broad, 
puffy, and double ; but of ears of any kind there was not a 
semblance to be discovered upon any portion of his head. 
This odd little gentleman was dressed in a loose surtout 
of sky-blue satin, with tight breeches to match, fastened 
with silver buckles at the knees. His vest was of some 
bright yellow material ; a white taffety cap was set jaunt- 
ily on one side of his head ; and, to complete his equip- 
ment, a blood-red silk handkerchief enveloped his throat, 
and fell down, in a dainty manner, upon his bosom, in a 
fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions. 

Having descended, as I said before, to about one hun- 
dred feet from the surface of the earth, the little old 
gentleman was suddenly seized with a fit of trepidation, 
and appeared disinclined to make any nearer approach to 
terra firma. Throwing out, therefore, a quantity of sand 
from a canvas bag, which he lifted with great difficulty, 
he became stationary in an instant. He then proceeded, 



O ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

in a hurried and agitated manner, to extract from a side- 
pocket in his surtout a large morocco pocket-book. This 
he poised suspiciously in his hand, then eyed it with an 
air of extreme surprise, and was evidently astonished at 
its weight. He at length opened it, and drawing there- 
from a huge letter sealed with red sealing-wax and tied 
carefully with red tape, let it fall precisely at the feet of the 
burgomaster, Superbus Von Underduk. His Excellency 
stooped to take it up. But the aeronaut, still greatly dis- 
composed, and having apparently no further business to 
detain him in Rotterdam, began at this moment to make 
busy preparations for departure ; and it being necessary to 
discharge a portion of ballast to enable him to reascend, 
the half dozen bags which he threw out, one after another, 
without taking the trouble to empty their contents, 
tumbled, every one of them, most unfortunately upon the 
back of the burgomaster, and rolled him over and over no 
less than half a dozen times, in the face of every individ- 
ual in Rotterdam. It is not to be supposed, however, 
that the great Underduk suffered this impertinence on 
the part of the little old man to pass off with impunity. 
It is said, on the contrary, that during each of his half 
dozen circumvolutions he emitted no less than half a 
dozen distinct and furious whiffs from his pipe, to which 
he held fast the whole time with all his might, and to 
which he intends holding fast (God willing) until the 
day of his decease. 

In the meantime the balloon arose like a lark, and, 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 7 

soaring far away above the city, at length drifted quietly 
,behind a cloud similar to that from which it had so oddly 
emerged, and was thus lost forever to the wondering eyes 
of the good citizens of Rotterdam. All attention was now 
directed to the letter, the descent of which, and the con- 
sequences attending thereupon, had proved so fatally sub- 
versive of both person and personal dignity to his Excel- 
lency, Von Underduk. That functionary, however, had 
not failed, during his circumgyratory movements, to 
bestow a thought upon the important object of securing 
the epistle, which was seen, upon inspection, to have fal- 
len into the most proper hands, being actually addressed 
to himself and Professor Rubadub, in their official capaci- 
ties of President and Vice-President of the Rotterdam 
College of Astronomy. It was accordingly opened by 
those dignitaries upon the spot, and found to contain the 
following extraordinary, and indeed very serious, com- 
munication : — 

" To their Excellencies Von Underduk and Rubadub, Presi- 
dent and Vice-President of the States' College of Astrono- 
mers, in the city of Rotterdam. 

" Your Excellencies may perhaps be able to remember 
an humble artizan, by name Hans Pfaall, and by occupa- 
tion a mender of bellows, who, with three others, disap- 
peared from Rotterdam, about five years ago, in a manner 
which must have been considered unaccountable. If, 
however, it so please your Excellencies, I, the writer of 



8 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

this communication, am the identical Hans Pfaall himself. 
It is well known to most of my fellow-citizens, that for 
the period of forty years I continued to occupy the little 
square brick building, at the head of the alley called Sauer- 
kraut, in which I resided at the time of my disappear- 
ance. My ancestors have also resided therein time out of 
mind — they, as well as myself, steadily following the re- 
spectable and indeed lucrative profession of mending of 
bellows : for, to speak the truth, until of late years, that 
the heads of all the people have been set agog with poli- 
tics, no better business than my own could an honest 
citizen of Rotterdam either desire or deserve. Credit was 
good, employment was never wanting, and there was no 
lack of either money or good-will. But, as I was say- 
ing, we soon began to feel the effects of liberty and long 
speeches, and radicalism, and all that sort of thing. Peo- 
ple who were formerly the best customers in the world, 
had now not a moment of time to think of us at all. They 
had as much as they could do to read about the revolu- 
tions, and keep up with the march of intellect and the 
spirit of the age. If a fire wanted fanning, it could readily 
be fanned with a newspaper ; and as the government grew 
weaker, I have no doubt that leather and iron acquired 
durability in proportion — for, in a very short time, there 
was not a pair of bellows in all Rotterdam that ever stood 
in need of a stitch or required the assistance of a hammer. 
This was a state of things not to be endured. I soon grew 
as poor as a rat, and, having a wife and children to pro- 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 9 

vide for, my burdens at length became intolerable, and I 
spent hour after hour in reflecting upon the most con- 
venient method of putting an end to my life. Duns, in 
the meantime, left me little leisure for contemplation. 
My house was literally besieged from morning till night. 
There were three fellows in particular who worried me 
beyond endurance, keeping watch continually about my 
door, and threatening me with the law. Upon these three 
I vowed the bitterest revenge, if ever I should be so happy 
as to get them within my clutches ; and I believe nothing 
in the world but the pleasure of this anticipation prevented 
me from putting my plan of suicide into immediate exe- 
cution, by blowing my brains out with a blunderbuss. I 
thought it best, however, to dissemble my wrath, and to 
treat them with promises and fair words, until, by some 
good turn of fate, an opportunity of vengeance should be 
afforded me. 

" One day, having given them the slip, and feeling more 
than usually dejected, I continued for a long time to 
wander about the most obscure streets without object, 
until at length I chanced to stumble against the corner of 
a bookseller's stall. Seeing a chair close at hand, for the 
1 use of customers, I threw myself doggedly into it, and, 
hardly knowing why, opened the pages of the first volume 
which came within my reach. It proved to be a small 
pamphlet treatise on Speculative Astronomy, written either 
by Professor Encke of Berlin or by a Frenchman of some- 
what similar name. I had some little tincture of infor- 



10 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

mation on matters of this nature, and soon became more 
and more absorbed in the contents of the book — reading 
it actually through twice before I awoke to a recollection 
of what was passing around me. By this time it began to 
grow dark, and I directed my steps toward home. But 
the treatise (in conjunction with a discovery in pneu- 
matics, lately communicated to me as an important secret, 
by a cousin from Nantz) had made an indelible impres- 
sion on my mind, and, as I sauntered along the dusky 
streets, I revolved carefully over in my memory the wild 
and sometimes unintelligible reasonings of the writer. 
There are some particular passages which affected my im- 
agination in an extraordinary manner. The longer I 
meditated upon these, the more intense grew the interest 
which had been excited within me. The limited nature 
of my education in general, and more especially my igno- 
rance on subjects connected with natural philosophy, so far 
from rendering me diffident of my own ability to compre- 
hend what I had read, or inducing me to mistrust the 
many vague notions which had arisen in consequence, 
merely served as a farther stimulus to imagination ; and 
I was vain enough, or perhaps reasonable enough, to doubt 
whether those crude ideas which, arising in ill-regulated 
minds, have all the appearance, may not often in effect 
possess all the force, the reality, and other inherent 
properties, of instinct or intuition. 

" It was late when I reached home, and I went immedi- 
ately to bed. My mind, however, was too much occupied 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. II 

to sleep, and I lay the whole night buried in meditation. 
Arising early in the morning, I repaired eagerly to the 
bookseller's stall, and laid out what little ready money I 
possessed, in the purchase of some volumes of Mechanics 
and Practical Astronomy. Having arrived at home safely 
with these, I devoted every spare moment to their 
perusal, and soon made such proficiency in studies of this 
nature as I thought sufficient for the execution of a cer- 
tain design with which either the Devil or my better gen- 
ius had inspired me. In the intervals of this period, I 
made every endeavor to conciliate the three creditors who 
had given me so much annoyance. In this I finally suc- 
ceeded — partly by selling enough of my household furni- 
ture to # satisfy a moiety of their claim, and partly by a 
promise of paying the balance upon completion of a little 
project which I told them I had in view, and for assist- 
ance in which I solicited their services. By these means 
(for they were ignorant men) I found little difficulty in 
gaining them over to my purpose. 

" Matters being thus arranged, I contrived, by the aid 
of my wife and with the greatest secrecy and caution, to 
dispose of what property I had remaining, and to borrow, 
in small sums, under various pretences, and without giving 
any attention (I am ashamed to say) to my future means 
of repayment, no inconsiderable quantity of ready money. 
With the means thus accruing I proceeded to procure at 
intervals, cambric muslin, very fine, in pieces of twelve 
yards each ; twine ; a lot of the varnish of caoutchouc ; 



12 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

a large and deep basket of wicker-work, made to order ; 
and several other articles necessary in the construction and 
equipment of a balloon of extraordinary dimensions. This 
I directed my wife to make up as soon as possible, and 
gave her all requisite information as to the particular 
method of proceeding. In the meantime I worked up 
the twine into net-work of sufficient dimensions ; rigged 
it with a hoop and the necessary cords ; and made pur- 
chase of numerous instruments and materials for experi- 
ment in the upper regions of the upper atmosphere. I 
then took opportunities of conveying by night, to a 
retired situation east of Rotterdam, five iron-bound casks, 
to contain about fifty gallons each, and one of a larger 
size ; six tin tubes, three inches in diameter, properly 
shaped, and ten feet in length ; a quantity of a particular 
metallic substance, or semi-metal, which I shall not name, 
and a dozen demijohns of a very common acid. The gas 
to be formed from these latter materials is a gas never 
yet generated by any other person than myself — or at 
least never applied to any similar purpose. I can only 
venture to say here, that it is a constituent of azote, so long 
considered irreducible, and that its density is about 37.4 
times less than that of hydrogen. It is tasteless, but not 
odorless ; burns, when pure, with a greenish flame ; and is 
instantaneously fatal to animal life. Its full secret I 
would make no difficulty in disclosing, but that it of right 
belongs (as I have before hinted) to a citizen of Nantz, in 
France, by whom it was conditionally communicated to 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 1 3 

myself. The same individual submitted to me, without 
being at all aware of my intentions, a method of con- 
structing balloons from the membrane of a certain 
animal, through which substance any escape of gas was 
nearly an impossibility. I found it however altogether 
too expensive, and was not sure, upon the whole, whether 
cambric muslin with a coating of gum caoutchouc, was 
not equally as good. I mention this circumstance, 
because I think it probable that hereafter the individual 
in question may attempt a balloon ascension with the 
novel gas and material I have spoken of, and I do not 
wish to deprive him of the honor of a very singular 
invention. 

" On the spot which I intended each of the smaller casks 
to occupy respectively during the inflation of the balloon, 
I privately dug a small hole ; the holes forming in this 
manner a circle twenty-five feet in diameter. In the cen- 
tre of this circle, being the station designed for the large 
cask, I also dug a hole of greater depth. In each of the 
five smaller holes, I deposited a canister containing fifty 
pounds, and in the larger one a keg holding one hundred 
and fifty pounds, of cannon powder. These — the keg and 
canisters — I connected in a proper manner with covered 
trains ; and having let into one of the canisters the end of 
about four feet of slow-match, I covered up the hole, and 
placed the cask over it, leaving the other end of the match 
protruding about an inch, and barely visible beyond the 
cask. I then filled up the remaining holes, and placed the 
barrels ov*?v them in their destined situation ! 



H ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

" Besides the articles above enumerated, I conveyed to 
the dtpot, and there secreted, one of M. Grimm's improve- 
ments upon the apparatus for condensation of the atmos- 
pheric air. I found this machine, however, to require 
considerable alteration before it could be adapted to the 
purposes to which I intended making it applicable. But, 
with severe labor and unremitting perseverance, I at length 
met with entire success in all my preparations. My bal- 
loon was soon completed. It would contain more than 
forty thousand cubic feet of gas ; would take me up easily, 
I calculated, with all my implements, and, if I managed 
rightly, with one hundred and seventy-five pounds of bal- 
last into the bargain. It had received three coats of 
varnish, and I found the cambric muslin to answer all the 
purposes of silk itself, being quite as strong and a good 
deal less expensive. 

" Every thing being now ready, I exacted from my wife 
an oath of secrecy in relation to all my actions from the 
day of my first visit to the bookseller's stall ; and promis- 
ing, on my part, to return as soon as circumstances would 
permit, I gave her what little money I had left, and bade 
her farewell. Indeed I had no fear on her account. She 
was what people call a notable woman, and could manage 
matters in the world without my assistance. I believe, to 
tell the truth, she always looked upon me as an idle body 
— a mere make-weight — good for nothing but building 
castles in the air, — and was rather glad to get rid of me. 
It was a dark night when I bade her good-bye, and taking 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 1 5 

with me, as aides-de-camp, the three creditors who had 
given me so much trouble, we carried the balloon, with 
the car and accoutrements, by a roundabout way, to the 
station where the other articles were deposited. We there 
found them all unmolested, and I proceeded immediately 
to business. 

" It was the first of April. The night, as I said before, 
was dark ; there was not a star to be seen ; and a drizzling 
rain, falling at intervals, rendered us very uncomfortable. 
But my chief anxiety was concerning the balloon, which, 
in spite of the varnish with which it was defended, began 
to grow rather heavy with the moisture ; the powder also 
was liable to damage. I therefore kept my three duns 
working with great diligence, pounding down ice around 
the central cask, and stirring the acid in the others. They 
did not cease, however, importuning me with questions as 
to what I intended to do with all this apparatus, and ex- 
pressed much dissatisfaction at the terrible labor I made 
them undergo. They could not perceive (so they said) 
what good was iikely to result from their getting wet to 
the skin, merely to take a part in such horrible incanta- 
tions. I began to get uneasy, and worked away with all 
my might, for I verily believe the idiots supposed that I 
had entered into a compact with the Devil, and that, in 
short, what I was now doing was nothing better than it 
should be. I was, therefore, in great fear of their leaving 
me altogether. I contrived, however, to pacify them by 
promises of payment of all scores in full, as soon as I could 



1 6 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

bring the present business to a termination. To these 
speeches they gave, of course, their own interpretation ; 
fancying, no doubt, that at all events I should come into 
possession of vast quantities of ready money ; and pro- 
vided I paid them all I owed, and a trifle more, in consid- 
eration of their services, I dare say they cared very little 
what became of either my soul or my carcass. 

" In about four' hours and a half I found the balloon 
sufficiently inflated. I attached the car, therefore, and 
put all my implements in it : a telescope ; a barometer, 
with some important modifications ; a thermometer ; an 
electrometer ; a compass ; a magnetic needle ; a seconds 
Ivatch 5 a bell ; a speaking-trumpet, etc., etc., etc. ; also a 
globe of glass, exhausted of air, and carefully closed with 
a stopper, — not forgetting the condensing apparatus, some 
unslacked lime, a stick of sealing-wax, a copious supply of 
water, and a large quantity of provisions, such as pemmi- 
can, in which much nutriment is contained in compara- 
tively little bulk. I also secured in the car a pair of 
pigeons and a cat. 

" It was now nearly daybreak, and I thought it high 
time to take my departure. Dropping a lighted cigar on 
the ground, as if by accident, I took the opportunity, in 
stooping to pick it up, of igniting privately the piece of 
slow-match, the end of which, as I said before, protruded 
a little beyond the lower rim of one of the smaller casks. 
This manoeuvre was totally unperceived on the part of the 
three duns; and, jumping into the car, I immediately cut 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P Fa ALL. \J 

the single cord which held me to the earth, and was 
pleased to find that I shot upward with inconceivable 
rapidity, carrying with all ease one hundred and seventy- 
five pounds of leaden ballast, and able to have carried up 
as many more. As I left the earth, the barometer stood 
at thirty inches, and the centigrade thermometer at 19 . 
" Scarcely, however, had I attained the height of fifty 
yards, when, roaring and rumbling up after me in the most 
tumultuous and terrible manner, came so dense a hurri- 
cane of fire, and gravel, and burning wood, and blazing 
metal, and mangled limbs, that my very heart sunk 
within me, and I fell down in the bottom of the car, 
trembling with terror. Indeed, I now perceived that 
I had entirely overdone the business, and that the 
main consequences of the shock were yet to be experi- 
enced. Accordingly, in less than a second, I felt all the 
blood in my body rushing to my temples, and immedi- 
ately thereupon, a concussion, which I shall never forget, 
burst abruptly through the night, and seemed to rip the 
very firmament asunder. When I afterward had time for 
reflection, I did not fail to attribute the extreme violence 
of the explosion, as regarded myself, to its proper cause 
— my situation directly above it, and in the line of its 
greatest power. But at the time, I thought only of pre- 
serving my life. The balloon at first collapsed, then 
furiously expanded, then whirled round and round with 
sickening velocity, and finally, reeling and staggering like 
a drunken man, hurled me over the rim of the car, and 



1 8 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

left me dangling, at a terrific height, with my head down- 
ward, and my face outward, by a piece of slender cord 
about three feet in length, which hung accidentally through 
a crevice near the bottom of the wicker-work, and in 
which, as I fell, my left foot became most providentially 
entangled. It is impossible — utterly impossible — to form 
any adequate idea of the horror of my situation. I gasped 
convulsively for breath — a shudder resembling a fit of the 
ague agitated every nerve and muscle in my frame — I felt 
my eyes starting from their sockets — a horrible nausea 
overwhelmed me — and at length I lost all consciousness 
in a swoon. 

" How long I remained in this state it is impossible to 
say. It must, however, have been no inconsiderable time, 
for when I partially recovered the sense of existence, I 
found the day breaking, the balloon at a prodigious height 
over a wilderness of ocean, and not a trace of land to be 
discovered far and wide within the limits of the vast 
horizon. My sensations, however, upon thus recovering, 
were by no means so replete with agony as might have 
been anticipated. Indeed, there was much of madness in 
the calm survey which I began to take of my situation. 
I drew up to my eyes each of my hands, one after the 
other, and wondered what occurrence could have given 
rise to the swelling of the veins, and the horrible black- 
ness of the finger-nails. I afterward carefully examined 
my head, shaking it repeatedly, and feeling it with minute 
attention, until I succeeded in satisfying myself that it 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 1 9 

was not, as I had more than half suspected, larger than 
my balloon. Then, in a knowing manner, I felt in both 
my breeches pockets, and, missing therefrom a set of 
tablets and a tooth-pick case, endeavored to account for 
their disappearance, and not being able to do so, felt 
inexpressibly chagrined. It now occurred to me that I 
suffered great uneasiness in the joint of my left ankle, 
and a dim consciousness of my situation began to glimmer 
through my mind, But, strange to say ! I was neither 
astonished nor horror-stricken. If I felt any emotion at 
all, it was a kind of chuckling satisfaction at the cleverness 
I was about to display in extricating myself from this di- 
lemma ; and never, for a moment, did I look upon my 
ultimate safety as a question susceptible of doubt. For 
a few minutes I remained wrapped in the profoundest 
meditation. I have a distinct recollection of frequently 
compressing my lips, putting my fore-finger to the side of 
my nose, and making use of other gesticulations and 
grimaces common to men who, at ease in their arm-chairs, 
meditate upon matters of intricacy or importance. Hav- 
ing, as I thought, sufficiently collected my ideas, I now, 
with great caution and deliberation, put my hands behind 
my back, and unfastened the large iron buckle which be- 
longed to the waistband of my pantaloons. This buckle 
had three teeth, which, being somewhat rusty, turned 
with great difficulty on their axis. I brought them, how- 
ever, after some trouble, at right angles to the body of the 
buckle, and was glad to find them remain firm in that 



20 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

position. Holding within my teeth the instrument thus 
obtained, I now proceeded to untie the knot of my cravat. 
I had to rest several times before I could accomplish this 
manoeuvre ; but it was at length accomplished. To one 
end of the cravat I then made fast the buckle, and the 
other end I tied, for greater security, tightly around my 
wrist. Drawing now my body upward, with a prodigious 
exertion of muscular force, I succeeded, at the very first 
trial, in throwing the buckle over the car, and entangling 
it, as I had anticipated, in the circular rim of the wicker- 
work. 

" My body was now inclined toward the side of the car, 
at an angle of about forty-five degrees ; but it must not 
be understood that I was therefore only forty-five degrees 
below the perpendicular. So far from it, I still lay nearly 
level with the plane of the horizon ; for the change of sit- 
uation which I had acquired, had forced the bottom of 
the car considerably outward from my position, which 
was accordingly one of the most imminent peril. It should 
be remembered, however, that when I fell, in the first in- 
stance, from the car, if I had fallen with my face turned 
toward the balloon, instead of turned outwardly from it, as it 
actually was ; or if, in the second place, the cord by which 
I was suspended had chanced to hang over the upper 
edge, instead of through a crevice near the bottom of the 
car, — I say it may readily be conceived that, in either of 
these supposed cases, I should have been unable to ac- 
complish even as much as I had now accomplished, and 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 21 

the disclosures now made would have been utterly lost to 
posterity. I had therefore every reason to be grateful; 
although, in point of fact, I was still too stupid to be any 
thing at all, and hung for, perhaps, a quarter of an hour, 
in that extraordinary manner, without making the slightest 
farther exertion, and in a singularly tranquil state of 
idiotic enjoyment. But this feeling did not fail to die 
rapidly away, and thereunto succeeded horror, and dis- 
may, and a sense of utter helplessness and ruin. In fact, 
the blood so long accumulating in the vessels of my head 
and throat, and which had hitherto buoyed up my spirits 
with delirium, had now begun to retire within their proper 
channels, and the distinctness which was thus added to 
my perception of the danger, merely served to deprive me 
of the self-possession and courage to encounter it. But 
this weakness was, luckily for me, of no very long dura- 
tion. In good time came to my rescue the spirit of de- 
spair, and, with frantic cries and struggles, I jerked my 
way bodily upward, till at length, clutching with a vise- 
like grip the long-desired rim, I writhed my person over 
it, and fell headlong and shuddering within the car. 

" It was not until some time afterward that I recovered 
myself sufficiently to attend to the ordinary cares of the 
balloon. I then, however, examined it with attention, 
and found it, to my great relief, uninjured. My imple- 
ments were all safe, and, fortunately, I had lost neither bal- 
last nor provisions. Indeed, I had so well secured them in 
their places, that such an accident was entirely out of the 



22 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

question. Looking at my watch, I found it six o'clock. 
I was still rapidly ascending, and the barometer gave a 
present altitude of three and three-quarter miles. Imme- 
diately beneath me in the ocean, lay a small black object, 
slightly oblong in shape, seemingly about the size of a 
domino, and in every respect bearing a great resemblance 
to one of those toys. Bringing my telescope to bear upon 
it, I plainly discerned it to be a British ninety-four-gun 
ship, close-hauled, and pitching heavily in the sea with her 
head to the W. S. W. Besides this ship, I saw nothing 
but the ocean and the sky, and the sun, which had long 
arisen. 

" It is now high time that I should explain to your Ex- 
cellencies the object of my voyage. Your Excellencies 
will bear in mind that distressed circumstances in Rotter- 
dam had at length driven me to the resolution of commit- 
ting suicide. It was not, however, that to life itself I had 
any positive disgust, but that I was harassed beyond en- 
durance by the adventitious miseries attending my situa- 
tion. In this state of mind, wishing to live, yet wearied 
with life, the treatise at the stall of the bookseller, backed 
by the opportune discovery of my cousin of Nantz, opened 
a resource to my imagination. I then finally made up my 
mind. I determined to depart, yet live — to leave the 
world, yet continue to exist — in short, to drop enigmas, I 
resolved, let what would ensue, to force a passage, if I 
could, to the moon. Now, lest I should be supposed more 
of a madman than I actually am, I will detail, as well as 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 23 

I am able, the considerations which led me to believe 
that an achievement of this nature, although without 
doubt difficult, and full of danger, was not absolutely, to 
a bold spirit, beyond the confines of the possible. 

" The moon's actual distance from the earth was the 
first thing to be attended to. Now, the mean or average 
interval between the centres of the two planets is 59.9643 
of the earth's equatorial radii, or only about 237,000 
miles. I say the mean or average interval ; but it must 
be borne in mind that the form of the moon's orbit being 
an ellipse of eccentricity amounting to no less than 
0.05484 of the major semi-axis of the ellipse itself, and 
the earth's centre being situated in its focus, if I could, in 
any manner, contrive to meet the moon in its perigee, the 
above-mentioned distance would be materially diminished. 
But, to say nothing at present of this possibility, it was 
very certain that, at all events, from the 237,000 miles I 
would have to deduct the radius of the earth, say 4,000, 
and the radius of the moon, say 1,080, in all 5,080, leaving 
an actual interval to be traversed, under average circum- 
stances, of 231,920 miles. Now this, I reflected, was no 
very extraordinary distance. Travelling on the land has 
been repeatedly accomplished at the rate of sixty miles 
per hour ; and indeed a much greater speed may be antici- 
pated. But even at this velocity, it would take me no 
more than 161 days to reach the surface of the moon. 
There were, however, many particulars inducing me to 
believe that my average rate of travelling might possibly 



24 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

very much exceed that of sixty miles per hour, and, as 
these considerations did not fail to make a deep impres- 
sion upon my mind, I will mention them more fully here- 
after. 

" The next point to be regarded was one of far greater 
importance. From indications afforded by the barometer, 
we find that, in ascensions from the surface of the earth 
we have, at the height of 1,000 feet, left below us about 
one thirtieth of the entire mass of atmospheric air ; that 
at 10,600 we have ascended through nearly one third ; 
and that at 18,000, which is not far from the elevation of 
Cotopaxi, we have surmounted one half the material, or, 
at all events, one half the ponderable, body of air incum- 
bent upon our globe. It is also calculated that at an alti- 
tude not exceeding the hundredth part of the earth's 
diameter — that is, not exceeding eighty miles — the rare- 
faction would be so excessive that animal life could in no 
manner be sustained, and, moreover, that the most deli- 
cate means we possess of ascertaining the presence of the 
atmosphere would be inadequate to assure us of its exist- 
ence. But I did not fail to perceive that these latter cal- 
culations are founded altogether on our experimental 
knowledge of the properties of air, and the mechanical 
laws regulating its dilation and compression, in what may 
be called, comparatively speaking, the immediate vicinity 
of the earth itself ; and, at the same time, it is taken for 
granted that animal life is and must be essentially incapa- 
ble of modification at any given unattainable distance 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 2$ 

from the surface. Now, all such reasoning and from such 
data must, of course, be simply analogical. The greatest 
height ever reached by man was that of 25,000 feet, at- 
tained in the aeronautic expedition of Messieurs Gay- 
Lussac and Biot. This is a moderate altitude, even when 
compared with the eighty miles in question ; and I could 
not help thinking that the subject admitted room for 
doubt and great latitude for speculation. 

" But, in point of fact, an ascension being made to 
any given altitude, the ponderable quantity of air sur- 
mounted in any farther ascension is by no means in 
proportion to the additional height ascended (as may 
be plainly seen from what has been stated before), 
but in a ratio constantly decreasing. It is therefore 
evident that, ascend as high as we may, we cannot, 
literally speaking, arrive at a limit beyond which no atmos- 
phere is to be found. It must exist, I argued ; although 
it may exist in a state of infinite rarefaction. 

" On the other hand, I was aware that arguments have 
not been wanting to prove the existence of a real and 
definite limit to the atmosphere, beyond which there is 
absolutely no air whatsoever. But a circumstance which 
has been left out of view by those who contend for such 
a limit, seemed to me, although no positive refutation of 
their creed, still a point worthy very serious investigation. 
On comparing the intervals between the successive arri- 
vals of Encke's comet at its perihelion, after giving 
credit, in the most exact manner, for all the disturbances 



26 ' ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

due to the attractions of the planets, it appears that the 
periods are gradually diminishing ; that is to say, the 
major axis of the comet's ellipse is growing shorter, in a 
slow but perfectly regular decrease. Now, this is precisely 
what ought to be the case, if we suppose a resistance ex- 
perienced from the comet from an extremely rare ethereal 
medium pervading the regions of its orbit. For it is evi- 
dent that such a medium must, in retarding the comet's 
velocity, increase its centripetal, by weakening its centri- 
fugal, force. In other words, the sun's attraction would be 
constantly attaining greater power, and the comet would 
be drawn nearer at every revolution. Indeed, there is no 
other way of accounting for the variation in question. But 
again : — The real diameter of the same comet's nebulosity 
is observed to contract rapidly as it approaches the sun, 
and dilate with equal rapidity in its departure toward its 
aphelion. Was I not justifiable in supposing, with M. 
Valz, that this apparent condensation of volume has its 
origin in the compression of the same ethereal medium I 
have spoken of before, and which is dense in proportion 
to its vicinity to the sun ? The lenticular-shaped phenom- 
enon, also called the zodiacal light, was a matter worthy 
of attention. This radiance, so apparent in the tropics, 
and which cannot be mistaken for any meteoric lustre, ex- 
tends from the horizon obliquely upward, and follows 
generally the direction of the sun's equator. It appeared 
to me evidently in the nature of a rare atmosphere extend- 
ing from the sun outward, beyond the orbit of Venus at 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 2J 

least, and I believed indefinitely farther.* Indeed, this 
medium I could not suppose confined to the path of the 
comet's ellipse, or to the immediate neighborhood of 
the sun. It was easy, on the contrary, to imagine it 
pervading the entire regions of our planetary system, 
condensed into what we call atmosphere at the planets 
themselves, and perhaps at some of them modified 
by considerations purely geological ; that is to say, modi- 
fied, or varied in its proportions (or absolute nature) by 
matters volatilized from the respective orbs. 

" Having adopted this view of the subject, I had little 
farther hesitation. Granting that on my passage I should 
meet with atmosphere essentially the same as at the sur- 
face of the earth, I conceived that, by means of the very 
ingenious apparatus of M. Grimm, I should readily be en- 
abled to condense it in sufficient quantity for the 
purposes of respiration. This would remove the chief 
obstacle in a journey to the moon. I had indeed spent 
some money and great labor in adapting the apparatus to 
the object intended, and confidently looked forward to its 
successful application, if I could manage to complete the 
voyage within any reasonable period. This brings me 
back to the rate at which it would be possible to travel. 

" It is true that balloons, in the first stage of their ascen- 
sions from the earth, are known to rise with a velocity 
comparatively moderate. Now, the power of elevation lies 

* The zodiacal light is probably what the ancients called Trabes. Emu 
cant Trabes quos docos vocant. — Pliny lib. 2, p. 26. 



28 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

altogether in the superior gravity of the atmospheric air 
compared with the gas in the balloon ; and, at first sight, 
it does not appear probable that, as the balloon acquires 
altitude, and consequently arrives successively in atmos- 
pheric strata of densities rapidly diminishing — I say, it 
does not appear at all reasonable that, in this its progress 
upward, the original velocity should be accelerated. On 
the other hand, I was not aware that, in any recorded 
ascension, a diminution had been proved to be apparent in 
the absolute rate of ascent ; although such should have 
been the case, if on account of nothing else, on account of 
the escape of gas through balloons ill-constructed, and 
varnished with no better material than the ordinary varnish. 
It seemed, therefore, that the effect of such escape was 
only sufficient to counterbalance the effect of the accelera- 
tion attained in the diminishing of the balloon's distance 
from the gravitating centre. I now considered that, pro- 
vided in my passage I found the medium I had im- 
agined, and provided that it should prove to be essen- 
tially what we denominate atmospheric air, it could 
make comparatively little difference at what extreme 
state of rarefaction I should discover it — that is to say, 
in regard to my power of ascending — for the gas in the 
balloon would not only be itself subject to similar rare- 
faction (in proportion to the occurrence of which, I 
could suffer an escape of so much as would be requisite 
to prevent explosion), but, being what it was> would, at 
all events, continue specifically lighter than any com* 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 2$ 

pound whatever of mere nitrogen and oxygen. Thus there 
was a chance — in fact there was a strong probability — 
that, at no epoch of my ascent, I should reach a point where 
the united weights of my immense balloon, the inconceivably 
rare gas within it, the car, and its contents, should equal the 
weight of the mass of the surrounding atmosphere displaced ; 
and this will be readily understood as the sole condi- 
tion upon which my upward flight would be arrested. 
But, if this point were even attained, I could dispense 
with ballast and other weight to the amount of nearly 
three hundred pounds. In the meantime, the force of 
gravitation would be constantly diminishing, in propor- 
tion to the squares of the distances, and so, with a ve- 
locity prodigiously accelerating, I should at length arrive 
in those distant regions where the force of the earth's 
attraction would be superseded by that of the moon. 

" There was another difficulty, however, which occa- 
sioned me some little disquietude. It has been observed, 
that, in balloon ascensions to any considerable height, 
besides the pain attending respiration, great uneasiness is 
experienced about the head and body, often accompanied 
with bleeding at the nose, and other symptoms of an 
alarming kind, and growing more and more inconvenient 
in proportion to the altitude attained.* This was a 
reflection of a nature somewhat startling. Was it not 

* Since the original publication of Hans Pfaall, I find that Mr. Green, of 
Nassau-balloon notoriety, and other late aeronauts, deny the assertions of 
Humboldt, in this respect, and speak of a den-easing inconvenience, — pre- 
cisely in accordance with the theory here urged. 



30 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

probable that these symptoms would increase until 
terminated by death itself ? I finally thought not. Their 
origin was to be looked for in the progressive removal of 
the customary atmospheric pressure upon the surface of 
the body, and consequent distention of the superficial 
blood-vessels — not in any positive disorganization of the 
animal system, as in the case of difficulty in breathing, 
where the atmospheric density is chemically insufficient 
for the due renovation of blood in a ventricle of the heart. 
Unless for default of this renovation, I could see no 
reason, therefore, why life could not be sustained even in 
a vacuum; for the expansion and compression of chest, 
commonly called breathing, is action purely muscular, and 
the cause, not the effect, of respiration. In a word, I con- 
ceived that, as the body should become habituated to the 
want of atmospheric pressure, the sensations of pain 
would gradually diminish — and to endure them while they 
continued, I relied with confidence upon the iron hardi- 
hood of my constitution. 

" Thus, may it please your Excellencies, I have detailed 
some, though by no means all, the considerations which 
led me to form the project of a lunar voyage. I shall 
now proceed to lay before you the result of an attempt so 
apparently audacious in conception, and, at all events, so 
utterly unparalleled in the annals of mankind. 

" Having attained the altitude before mentioned — that 
is to say three miles and three quarters — I threw out from 
the car a quantity of feathers, and found that I still 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 3 1 

ascended with sufficient rapidity ; there was, therefore, no 
necessity for discharging any ballast. I was glad of this, 
for I wished to retain with me as much weight as I could 
carry, for the obvious reason that I could not be positive 
either about the gravitation or the atmospheric density 
of the moon. I as yet suffered no bodily inconvenience, 
breathing with great freedom, and feeling no pain what- 
ever in the head. The cat was lying very demurely upon 
my coat, which I had taken off, and eyeing the pigeons 
with an air of nonchalance. These latter being tied by 
the leg, to prevent their escape, were busily employed in 
picking up some grains of rice scattered for them in the 
bottom of the car. 

" At twenty minutes past six o'clock, the barometer 
showed an elevation of 26,400 feet, or five miles to a 
fraction. The prospect seemed unbounded. Indeed, it 
is very easily calculated by means of spherical geometiy, 
how great an extent of the earth's area I beheld. The 
convex surface of any segment of a sphere is, to the 
entire surface of the sphere itself, as the versed sine of the 
segment to the diameter of the sphere. Now, in my 
case, the versed sine — that is to say, the thickness of the 
segment beneath me — was about equal to my elevation, 
or the elevation of the point of sight above the surface. 
'As five miles, then, to eight thousand,' would express 
the proportion of the earth's area seen by me. In other 
words, I beheld as much as a sixteen-hundredth part of 
the whole surface of the globe. The sea appeared un- 



32 ADVENTURE OF JIANS PEA ALL. 

ruffled as a mirror, although, by means of the telescope, 
I could perceive it to be in a state of violent agitation. 
The ship was no longer visible, having drifted away, 
apparently to the eastward. I now began to experience, 
at intervals, severe pain in the head, especially about the 
ears — still, however, breathing with tolerable freedom. 
The cat and pigeons seemed to suffer no inconvenience 
whatsover. 

" At twenty minutes before seven, the balloon entered a 
long series of dense cloud, which put me to great trouble, 
by damaging my condensing apparatus, and wetting me 
to the skin ; this was, to be sure, a singular rencontre, for I 
had not believed it possible that a cloud of this nature 
could be sustained at so great an elevation. I thought it 
best, however, to throw out two five-pound pieces of bal- 
last, reserving still a weight of one hundred and sixty-five 
pounds. Upon so doing, I soon rose above the difficulty, 
and perceived immediately, that I had obtained a great 
increase in my rate of ascent. In a few seconds after my 
leaving the cloud, a flash of vivid lightning shot from one 
end of it to the other, and caused it to kindle up, through- 
out its vast extent, like a mass of ignited charcoal. This, 
it must be remembered, was in the broad light of day. 
No fancy may picture the sublimity which might have 
been exhibited by a similar phenomenon taking place amid 
the darkness of the night. Hell itself might have been 
found a fitting image. Even as it was, my hair stood on 
end, while I gazed afar down within the yawning abysses, 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 33 

letting imagination descend, and stalk about in the strange 
vaulted halls, and ruddy gulfs, and red ghastly chasms of 
the hideous and unfathomable fire. I had indeed made 
a narrow escape. Had the balloon remained a very short 
while longer within the cloud — that is to say, had not the 
inconvenience of getting wet, determined me to discharge 
the ballast — my destruction might, and probably would, 
have been the consequence. Such perils, although little 
considered, are perhaps the greatest which must be en- 
countered in balloons. I had by this time, however, at- 
tained too great an elevation to be any longer uneasy on 
this head. 

" I was now rising rapidly, and by seven o'clock the ba- 
rometer indicated an altitude of no less than nine miles 
and a half. I began to find great difficulty in drawing my 
breath. My head, too, was excessively painful ; and, 
having felt for some time a moisture about my cheeks, I 
at length discovered it to be blood, which was oozing 
quite fast from the drums of my ears. My eyes, also, gave 
me great uneasiness. Upon passing the hand over them 
they seemed to have protruded from their sockets in no 
inconsiderable degree ; and all objects in the car, and even 
the balloon itself, appeared distorted to my vision. These 
symptoms were more than I had expected, and occasioned 
me some alarm. At this juncture, very imprudently, and 
without consideration, I threw out from the car three five- 
pound pieces of ballast. The accelerated rate of ascent 
thus obtained, carried me too rapidly, and without sufri- 



34 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

cient gradation, into a highly rarefied stratum of the at- 
mosphere, and the result had nearly proved fatal to my 
expedition and to myself. I was suddenly seized with a 
spasm which lasted for more than five minutes, and even 
when this, in a measure, ceased, I could catch my breath 
only at long intervals, and in a gasping manner, — bleeding 
all the while copiously at the nose and ears, and even 
slightly at the eyes. The pigeons appeared distressed in 
the extreme, and struggled to escape ; while the cat 
mewed piteously, and, with her tongue hanging out of 
her mouth, staggered to and fro in the car as if under the 
influence of poison. I now too late discovered the great 
rashness of which I had been guilty in discharging the 
ballast, and my agitation was excessive. I anticipated 
nothing less than death, and death in a few minutes. The 
physical suffering I underwent contributed also to render 
me nearly incapable of making any exertion for the preser- 
vation of my life. I had, indeed, little power of reflection 
left, and the violence of the pain in my head seemed to 
be greatly on the increase. Thus I found that my senses 
would shortly give way altogether, and I had already 
clutched one of the valve ropes with the view of attempt- 
ing a descent, when the recollection of the trick I had 
played the three creditors, and the possible consequences 
to myself, should I return, operated to deter me for the 
moment. I lay down in the bottom of the car, and en- 
deavoured to collect my faculties. In this I so far succeed- 
ed as to determine upon the experiment of losing blood. 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 35 

Having no lancet, however, I was constrained to perform 
the operation in the best manner I was able, and finally 
succeeded in opening a vein in my left arm, with the 
blade of my penknife. The blood had hardly com- 
menced flowing when I experienced a sensible relief, 
and by the time I had lost about half a moderate 
basin-full, most of the worst symptoms had abandoned me 
entirely. I nevertheless did not think it expedient to at- 
tempt getting on my feet immediately ; but, having tied 
up my arm as well as I could, I lay still for about a quar- 
ter of an hour. At the end of this time I arose, and 
found myself freer from absolute pain of any kind than I 
had been during the last hour and a quarter of my ascen- 
sion. The difficulty of breathing, however, was dimin- 
ished in a very slight degree, and I found that it would 
soon be positively necessary to make use of my condenser. 
In the meantime, looking toward the cat, who was again 
snugly stowed away upon my coat, I discovered to my in- 
finite surprise, that she had taken the opportunity of my 
indisposition to bring into light a litter of three little kit- 
tens. This was an addition to the number of passengers 
on my part altogether unexpected ; but I was pleased at 
the occurrence. It would afford me a chance of bringing to 
a kind of test the truth of a surmise, which, more than any 
thing else, had influenced me in attempting this ascension. 
I had imagined that the habitual endurance of the atmos- 
pheric pressure at the surface of the earth was the cause, 
or nearly so, of the pain attending animal existence at a 



36 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

distance above the surface. Should the kittens be found to 
suffer uneasiness in an equal degree with their mother, I 
must consider my theory in fault, but a failure to do so I 
should look upon as a strong confirmation of my idea. 

" By eight o'clock I had actually attained an elevation 
of seventeen miles above the surface of the earth. Thus 
it seemed to me evident that my rate of ascent was not 
only on the increase, but that the progression would have 
been apparent in a slight degree even had I not discharged 
the ballast which I did. The pains in my head and ears 
returned, at intervals, with violence, and I still continued 
to bleed occasionally at the nose ; but, upon the whole, I 
suffered much less than might have been expected. I 
breathed, however, at every moment, with more and more 
difficulty, and each inhalation was attended with a trouble- 
some spasmodic action of the chest. I now unpacked the 
condensing apparatus, and got it ready for immediate use. 

"The view of the earth, at this period of my ascension, 
was beautiful indeed. To the westward, the northward, 
and the southward, as far as I could see, lay a boundless 
sheet of apparently unruffled ocean, which every moment 
gained a deeper and deeper tint of blue. At a vast dis- 
tance to the eastward, althought perfectly discernible, 
extended the islands of Great Britain, the entire Atlantic 
coasts of France and Spain, with a small portion of the 
northern part of the continent of Africa. Of individual 
edifices not a trace could be discovered, and the proudest 
cities of mankind had utterly faded away from the face of 
the earth. 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 37 

" What mainly astonished me, in the appearance of 
things below, was the seeming concavity of the surface of 
the globe. I had, thoughtlessly enough, expected to see 
its real convexity become evident as I ascended ; but a 
very little reflection sufficed to explain the discrepancy. 
A line, dropped from my position perpendicularly to the 
earth, would have formed the perpendicular of a right- 
angled triangle, of which the base would have extended 
from the right-angle to the horizon, and the hypothenuse 
from the horizon to my position. But my height was 
little or nothing in comparison with my prospect. In 
other words, the base and hypothenuse of the supposed 
triangle would, in my case, have been so long, when com- 
pared to the perpendicular, that the two former might 
have been regarded as nearly parallel. In this manner the 
horizon of the aeronaut appears always to be upon a level 
with the car. But as the point immediately beneath him 
seems, and is, at a great distance below him, it seems, of 
course, also at a great distance below the horizon. Hence 
the impression of concavity ; and this impression must 
remain, until the elevation shall bear so great a proportion 
to the prospect, that the apparent parallelism of the base 
and hypothenuse disappears. 

" The pigeons about this time seeming to undergo much 
suffering, I determined upon giving them their liberty. 
I first untied one of them, a beautiful gray-mottled pigeon, 
and placed him upon the rim of the wicker-work. He ap- 
peared extremely uneasy, looking anxiously around him, 



38 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

fluttering his wings, and making a loud cooing noise, but 
could not be persuaded to trust himself from the car. I 
took him up at last, and threw him to about half a dozen 
yards from the balloon. He made, however, no attempt 
to descend as I had expected, but struggled with great 
vehemence to get back, uttering at the same time very 
shrill and piercing cries. He at length succeeded in re- 
gaining his former station on the rim, but had hardly 
done so when his head dropped upon his breast, and he 
fell dead within the car. The other one did not prove so 
unfortunate. To prevent his following the example of 
his companion, and accomplishing a return, I threw him 
downward with all my force, and was pleased to find him 
continue his descent, with great velocity, making use of 
his wings with ease, and in a perfectly natural manner. 
In a very short time he was out of sight, and I have no 
doubt he reached home in safety. Puss, who seemed in a 
great measure recovered from her illness, now made a 
hearty meal of the dead bird, and then went to sleep with 
much apparent satisfaction. Her kittens were quite 
lively, and so far evinced not the slightest sign of any un- 
easiness. 

" At a quarter past eight, being able no longer to draw 
breath without the most intolerable pain, I proceeded 
forthwith to adjust around the car the apparatus belong- 
ing to the condenser. This apparatus will require some 
little explanation, and your Excellencies will please to 
bear in mind that my object, in the first place, was to sur- 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 39 

round myself and car entirely with a barricade against the 
highly rarefied atmosphere in which I was existing, with 
the intention of introducing within this barricade, by 
means of my condenser, a quantity of this same atmos- 
phere sufficiently condensed for the purposes of respira- 
tion. With- this object in view I had prepared a very 
strong, perfectly air-tight, but flexible gum-elastic bag. In 
this bag, which was of sufficient dimensions, the entire 
car was in a manner placed. That is to say, it (the bag) 
was drawn over the whole bottom of the car, up its sides, 
and so on, along the outside of the ropes, to the upper 
rim or hoop where the net-work is attached. Having 
pulled the bag up in this way, and formed a complete en- 
closure on all sides, and at bottom, it was now necessary 
to fasten up its top or mouth, by passing its material 
over the hoop of the net-work, — in other words, between 
the net-work and the hoop. But if the net-work were 
separated from the hoop to admit this passage, what was 
to sustain the car in the meantime ? Now the net-work 
was not permanently fastened to the hoop, but attached 
by a series of running loops or nooses. I therefore undid 
only a few of these loops at one time, leaving the car sus- 
pended by the remainder. Having thus inserted a portion 
of the cloth forming the upper part of the bag, I refast- 
ened the loops — not to the hoop, for that would have 
been impossible, since the cloth now intervened, — but to 
a series of large buttons, affixed to the cloth itself, 
about three feet below the mouth of the bag ; the inter- 



40 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

vals between the buttons having been made to correspond 
to the intervals between the loops. This done, a few 
more of the loops were unfastened from the rim, a farther 
portion of the cloth introduced, and the disengaged loops 
then connected with their proper buttons. In this way it 
was possible to insert the whole upper part of the bag be- 
tween the net-work and the hoop. It is evident that 
the hoop would now drop down within the car, while 
the whole weight of the car itself, with all its con- 
tents, would be held up merely by the strength of the 
buttons. This, at first sight, would seem an inadequate 
dependence ; but it was by no means so, for the buttons 
were not only very strong in themselves, but so close to- 
gether that a very slight portion of the whole weight was 
supported by any one of them. Indeed, had the car and 
contents been three times heavier than they were, I 
should not have been at all uneasy. I now raised up the 
hoop again within the covering of gum-elastic, and propped 
it at nearly its former height by means of three light poles 
prepared for the occasion. This was done, of course, to 
keep the bag distended at the top, and to preserve the 
lower part of the net-work in its proper situation. All 
that now remained was to fasten up the mouth of the en- 
closure ; and this was readily accomplished by gathering 
the folds of the material together, and twisting them up 
very tightly on the inside by means of a kind of stationary 
tourniquet. 

" In the sides of the covering thus adjusted round the 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 4 1 

car, had been inserted three circular panes of thick but 
clear glass, through which I could see without difficulty 
around me in every horizontal direction. In that portion 
of the cloth forming the bottom, was likewise a fourth 
window, of the same kind, and corresponding with a small 
aperture in the floor of the car itself. This enabled me to 
see perpendicularly down, but having found it impossible 
to place any similar contrivance overhead, on account of 
the peculiar manner of closing up the opening there, and 
the consequent wrinkles in the cloth, I could expect to 
see no objects situated directly in my zenith. This, of 
course, was a matter of little consequence ; for, had I 
even been able to place a window at top, the balloon itself 
would have prevented my making any use of it. 

" About a foot below one of the side windows was a 
circular opening, three inches in diameter, and fitted with 
a brass rim adapted in its inner edge to the windings of a 
screw. In this rim was screwed the large tube of the con- 
denser, the body of the machine being, of course, within 
the chamber of gum-elastic. Through this tube a quantity 
of the rare atmosphere circumjacent being drawn by 
means of a vacuum created in the body of the machine, 
was thence discharged, in a state of condensation, to 
mingle with the thin air already in the chamber. This 
operation being repeated several times, at length filled 
the chamber with atmosphere proper for all the purposes 
of respiration ; but in so confined a space it would, in a 
short time, necessarily become foul, and unfit for use from 



42 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

frequent contact with the lungs. It was then ejected by 
a small valve at the bottom of the car; — the dense air 
readily sinking into the thinner atmosphere below. To 
avoid the inconvenience of making a total vacuum at any 
moment within the chamber, this purification was never 
accomplished all at once, but in a gradual manner, — the 
valve being opened only for a few seconds, then closed 
again, until one or two strokes from the pump of the con- 
denser had supplied the place of the atmosphere ejected. 
For the sake of experiment I had put the cat and kittens 
in a small basket, and suspended it outside the car to 
a button at the bottom, close by the valve, through which 
I could feed them at any moment when necessary. I did 
this at some little risk, and before closing the mouth 
of the chamber, by reaching under the car with one of the 
poles before mentioned to which a hook had been at- 
tached. As soon as dense air was admitted in the cham- 
ber, the hoop and poles became unnecessary ; the ex- 
pansion of the enclosed atmosphere powerfully distending 
the gum-elastic. 

" By the time I had fully completed these arrangements 
and filled the chamber as explained, it wanted only ten 
minutes of nine o'clock. During the whole period of my 
being thus employed, I endured the most terrible distress 
from difficulty of respiration, and bitterly did I repent 
the negligence or rather fool-hardiness, of which I had 
been guilty, of putting off to the last moment a matter of 
so much importance. But having at length accomplished 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 43 

it, I soon began to reap the benefit of my invention. 
Once again I breathed with perfect freedom and ease — 
and indeed why should I not ? I was also agreeably sur- 
prised to find myself, in a great measure, relieved from the 
violent pains which had hitherto tormented me. A slight 
headache, accompanied with a sensation of fulness or dis- 
tention about the wrists, the ankles, and the throat, was 
nearly all of which I had now to complain. Thus it 
seemed evident that a greater part of the uneasiness at- 
tending the removal of atmospheric pressure had actually 
worn off, as I had expected, and that much of the pain 
endured for the last two hours should have been at- 
tributed altogether to the effects of a deficient respira- 
tion. 

" At twenty minutes before nine o'clock — that is to say, 
a short time prior to my closing up the mouth of the 
chamber, the mercury attained its limit, or ran down, in 
the barometer, which, as I mentioned before, was one of 
an extended construction. It then indicated an altitude 
on my part of 132,000 feet, or five-and-twenty miles, and 
I consequently surveyed at that time an extent of the 
earth's area amounting to no less than the three-hundred- 
and-twentieth part of its entire surperficies. At nine 
o'clock I had again lost sight of land to the eastward, 
but not before I became aware that the balloon was drift- 
ing rapidly to the N. N. W. The ocean beneath me 
still retained its apparent concavity, although my view 
was often interrupted by the masses of cloud which 
floated to and fro. 



44 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

" At half past nine I tried the experiment of throwing 
out a handful of feathers through the valve. They did 
not float as I had expected ; but dropped down perpen- 
dicularly, like a bullet, en masse, and with the greatest 
velocity, — being out of sight in a very few seconds. I 
did not at first know what to make of this extraordinary 
phenomenon ; not being able to believe that my rate 
of ascent had, of a sudden, met with so prodigious an 
acceleration. But it soon occurred to me that the atmos- 
phere was now far too rare to sustain even the feathers ; 
that they actually fell, as they appeared to do, with great 
rapidity ; and that I had been surprised by the united 
velocities of their descent and my own elevation. 

" By ten o'clock I found that I had very little to occupy 
my immediate attention. Affairs went on swimmingly, 
and I believed the balloon to be going upward with a 
speed increasing momently although I had no longer any 
means of ascertaining the progression of the increase. I 
suffered no pain or uneasiness of any kind, and enjoyed 
better spirits than I had at any period since my departure 
from Rotterdam ; busying myself now in examining the 
state of my various apparatus, and now in regenerating 
the atmosphere within the chamber. This latter point I 
determined to attend to at regular intervals of forty min- 
utes, more on account of the preservation of my health, 
than from so frequent a renovation being absolutely neces- 
sary. In the meanwhile I could not help making antici- 
pations. Fancy revelled in the wild and dreamy regions 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 45 

of the moon. Imagination, feeling herself for once un- 
shackled, roamed at will among the ever-changing wonders 
of a shadowy and unstable land. Now there were hoary 
and time-honored forests, and craggy precipices, and 
waterfalls tumbling with a loud noise into abysses without 
a bottom. Then I came suddenly into still noonday soli- 
tudes, where no wind of heaven ever intruded, and where 
vast meadows of poppies, and slender, lily-looking flowers 
spread themselves out a weary distance, all silent and 
motionless for ever. Then again I journeyed far down 
away into another country where it was all one dim and 
vague lake, with a boundary line of clouds. But fancies 
such as these were not the sole possessors of my brain. 
Horrors of a nature most stern and most appalling would 
too frequently obtrude themselves upon my mind, and 
shake the innermost depths of my soul with the bare sup- 
position of their possibility. Yet I would not suffer my 
thoughts for any length of time to dwell upon these latter 
speculations, rightly judging the real and palpable dangers 
of the voyage sufficient for my undivided attention. 

"At five o'clock, P. M., being engaged in regenerating 
the atmosphere within the chamber, I took that opportu- 
nity of observing the cat and kittens through the valve. 
The cat herself appeared to suffer again very much, and I 
had no hesitation in attributing her uneasiness chiefly to 
a difficulty in breathing ; but my experiment with the 
kittens had resulted very strangely. I had expected, of 
course, to see them betray a sense of pain, although in a 



46 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

less degree than their mother ; and this would have been 
sufficient to confirm my opinion concerning the habitual 
endurance of atmospheric pressure. But I was not pre- 
pared to find them, upon close examination, evidently en- 
joying a high degree of health, breathing with the greatest 
ease and perfect regularity, and evincing not the slightest 
sign of any uneasiness. I could only account for all this 
by extending my theory, and supposing that the highly 
rarefied atmosphere around might perhaps not be, as I 
had taken for granted, chemically insufficient for the pur- 
poses of life, and that a person born in such a medium might, 
possibly, be unaware of any inconvenience attending its 
inhalation, while, upon removal to the denser strata near 
the earth, he might endure tortures of a similar nature to 
those I had so lately experienced. It has since been to 
me a matter of deep regret that an awkward accident, at 
this time, occasioned me the loss of my little family of 
cats, and deprived me of the insight into this matter 
which a continued experiment might have afforded. In 
passing my hand through the valve, with a cup of water 
for the old puss, the sleeve of my shirt became entangled 
m the loop which sustained the basket, and thus, in a 
moment, loosened it from the button. Had the whole 
actually vanished into air, it could not have shot from my 
sight in a more abrupt and instantaneous manner. Posi- 
tively, there could not have intervened the tenth part of 
a second between the disengagement of the basket and its 
absolute disappearance with all that it contained. My 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 47 

good wishes followed it to the earth, but of course, I had 
no hope that either cat or kittens would ever live to tell 
the tale of their misfortune. 

"At six o'clock, I perceived a great portion of the 
earth's visible area to the eastward involved in thick 
shadow, which continued to advance with great rapidity, 
until, at five minutes before seven, the whole surface in 
view was enveloped in the darkness of night. It was not, 
however, until long after this time that the rays of the 
setting sun ceased to illumine the balloon ; and this cir- 
cumstance, although of course fully anticipated, did not 
fail to give me an infinite deal of pleasure. It was evi- 
dent that, in the morning, I should behold the rising 
luminary many hours at least before the citizens of Rot- 
terdam, in spite of their situation so much farther to the 
eastward, and thus, day after day, in proportion to the 
height ascended, would I enjoy the light of the sun for a 
longer and a longer period. I now determined to keep a 
journal of my passage, reckoning the days from one to 
twenty-four hours continuously, without taking into con- 
sideration the intervals of darkness. 

" At ten o'clock, feeling sleepy, I determined to lie down 
for the rest of the night ; but here a difficulty presented 
itself, which, obvious as it may appear, had escaped my 
attention up to the very moment of which I am now 
speaking. If I went to sleep as I proposed, how could 
the atmosphere in the chamber be regenerated in the 
interim ? To breathe it for more than an hour, at the 



4& ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

farthest, would be a matter of impossibility ; or, if even 
this term could be extended to an hour and a quarter, the 
most ruinous consequences might ensue. The considera- 
tion of this dilemma gave me no little disquietude ; and 
it will hardly be believed, that, after the dangers I had 
undergone, I should look upon this business in so serious 
a light, as to give up all hope of accomplishing my ulti- 
mate design, and finally make up my mind to the necessity 
of a descent. But this hesitation was only momentary. 
I reflected that man is the veriest slave of custom, and 
that many points in the routine of his existence are deemed 
essentially important, which are only so at all by his having 
rendered them habitual. It was very certain that I could 
not do without sleep ; but I might easily bring myself to 
feel no inconvenience from being awakened at intervals of 
an hour during the whole period of my repose. It would 
require but five minutes at most to regenerate the atmos- 
phere in the fullest manner — and the only real difficulty 
was to contrive a method of arousing myself at the proper 
moment for so doing. But this was a question which, I 
am willing to confess, occasioned me no little trouble in 
its solution. To be sure, I had heard of the student who, 
to prevent his falling asleep over his books, held in one 
hand a ball of copper, the din of whose descent into a 
basin of the same metal on the floor beside his chair, 
served effectually to startle him up, if, at any moment, he 
should be overcome with drowsiness. My own case, how- 
ever, was very different indeed, and left me no room for 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 49 

any similar idea ; for I did not wish to keep awake, but to 
be aroused from slumber at regular intervals of time. I 
at length hit upon the following expedient, which, simple 
as it may seem, was hailed by me, at the moment of dis- 
covery, as an invention fully equal to that of the telescope, 
the steam-engine, or the art of printing itself. 

" It is necessary to premise, that the balloon, at the 
elevation now attained, continued its course upward with 
an even and undeviating ascent, and the car consequently 
followed with a steadiness so perfect that it would have 
been impossible to detect in it the slightest vacillation. 
This circumstance favored me greatly in the project I now 
determined to adopt. My supply of water had been put 
on board in kegs containing five gallons each, and ranged 
very securely around the interior of the car. I unfastened 
one of these, and taking two ropes, tied them tightly 
across the rim of the wicker-work from one side to the 
other ; placing them about a foot apart and parallel, so as 
to form a kind of shelf, upon which I placed the keg, and 
steadied it in a horizontal position. About eight inches 
immediately below these ropes, and four feet from the 
bottom of the car I fastened another shelf — but made 
of thin plank, being the only similar piece of wood I had. 
Upon this latter shelf, and exactly beneath one of the 
rims of the keg, a small earthen pitcher was deposited. I 
now bored a hole in the end of the keg over the pitcher, 
and fitted in a plug of soft wood, cut in a tapering or 
conical shape. This plug I pushed in or pulled out, as 



50 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

might happen, until, after a few experiments, it arrived at 
that exact degree of tightness, at which the water, oozing 
from the hole, and falling into the pitcher below, would 
fill the latter to the brim in the period of sixty minutes. 
This, of course, was a matter briefly and easily ascer- 
tained, by noticing the proportion of the pitcher filled in 
any given time. Having arranged all this, the rest of 
the plan is obvious. My bed was so contrived upon the 
floor of the car, as to bring my head, in lying down, im- 
mediately below the mouth of the pitcher. It was evi- 
dent, that, at the expiration of an hour, the pitcher, getting 
full, would be forced to run over, and to run over at the 
mouth, which was somewhat lower than the rim. It was 
also evident, that the water thus falling from a height of 
more than four feet, could not do otherwise than fall upon 
my face, and that the sure consequence would be, to 
waken me up instantaneously, even from the soundest 
slumber in the world. 

" It was fully eleven by the time I had completed these 
arrangements, and I immediately betook myself to bed, 
with full confidence in the efficiency of my invention. 
Nor in this matter was I disappointed. Punctually every 
sixty minutes was I aroused by my trusty chronometer, 
when, having emptied the pitcher into the bung-hole of 
the keg, and performed the duties of the condenser, I re- 
tired again to bed. These regular interruptions to my 
slumber caused me even less discomfort than I had an- 
ticipated ; and when I finally arose for the day, it was 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 51 

seven o'clock, and the sun had attained many degrees 
above the line of my horizon. 

" April $d. I found the balloon at an immense height 
indeed, and the earth's convexity had now become strik- 
ingly manifest. Below me in the ocean lay a cluster of 
black specks, which undoubtedly were islands. Over- 
head, the sky was of a jetty black, and the stars were 
brilliantly visible ; indeed they had been so constantly 
since the first day of ascent. Far away to the northward 
I perceived a thin, white, and exceedingly brilliant line, or 
streak, on the edge of the horizon, and I had no hesita- 
tion in supposing it to be the southern disc of the ices of 
the Polar Sea. My curiosity was greatly excited, for I had 
hopes of passing on much farther to the north, and might 
possibly, at some period, find myself placed directly above 
the Pole itself. I now lamented that my great elevation 
would, in this case, prevent my taking as accurate a sur- 
vey as I could wish. Much, however, might be ascer- 
tained. 

" Nothing else of an extraordinary nature occurred 
during the day. My apparatus all continued in good 
order, and the balloon still ascended without any percep- 
tible vacillation. The cold was intense, and obliged me to 
wrap up closely in an overcoat. When darkness came 
over the earth, I betook myself to bed, although it was 
for many hours afterward broad daylight all around my 
immediate situation. The water-clock was punctual in its 
duty, and I slept until next morning soundly, with the 
exception of the periodical interruption. 



52 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

"April 4t/i. Arose in good health and spirits, and was 
astonished at the singular change which had taken place 
in the appearance of the sea. It had lost, in a great 
measure, the deep tint of blue it had hitherto worn, being 
now of a grayish-white, and of a lustre dazzling to the eye. 
The convexity of the ocean had become so evident, that 
the entire mass of the distant water seemed to be tumb- 
ling headlong over the abyss of the horizon, and I found 
myself listening on tiptoe for the echoes of the mighty 
cataract. The islands were no longer visible ; whether 
they had passed down the horizon to the southeast, or 
whether my increasing elevation had left them out of 
sight, it is impossible to say. I was inclined, however, to 
the latter opinion. The rim of ice to the northward was 
growing more and more apparent. Cold by no means so 
intense. Nothing of importance occurred, and I passed 
the day in reading, having taken care to supply myself 
with books. 

"April $th. Beheld the singular phenomenon of the sun 
rising while nearly the whole visible surface of the earth 
continued to be involved in darkness. In time, however, 
the light spread itself over all, and I again saw the line of 
ice to the northward. It was now very distinct, and ap- 
peared of a much darker hue than the waters of the ocean. 
I was evidently approaching it, and with great rapidity. 
Fancied I could again distinguish a strip of land to the 
eastward, and one also to the westward, but could not be 
certain. Weather moderate. Nothing of any conse- 
quence happened during the day. Went early to bed. 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 53 

"April 6th. Was surprised at rinding the rim of ice at 
a very moderate distance, and an immense field of the 
same material stretching away off to the horizon in the 
north. It was evident that if the balloon held its present 
course, it would soon arive above the Frozen Ocean, and 
I had now little doubt of ultimately seeing the Pole. 
During the whole of the day I continued to near the ice. 
Toward night the limits of my horizon very suddenly and 
materially increased, owing undoubtedly to the earth's 
form being that of an oblate spheroid, and my arriving 
above the flattened regions in the vicinity af the Arctic 
circle. When darkness at length overtook me, I went to 
bed in great anxiety, fearing to pass over the object of so 
much curiosity when I should have no opportunity of ob- 
serving it. 

"April Jth. Arose early, and, to my great joy, at 
length beheld what there could be no hesitation in sup- 
posing the northern Pole itself. It was there, beyond a 
doubt, and immediately beneath my feet ; but, alas ! I had 
now ascended to so vast a distance, that nothing could 
with accuracy be discerned. Indeed, to judge from the 
progression of the numbers indicating my various alti- 
tudes, respectively, at different periods, between six A.M. 
on the second of April, and twenty minutes before nine 
A.M. of the same day (at which time the barometer ran 
down), it might be fairly inferred that the balloon had 
now, at four o'clock in the morning of April the seventh, 
reached a height of not less, certainly, than 7254 miles 



54 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

above the surface of the sea. This elevation may appear 
immense, but the estimate upon which it is calculated 
gave a result in all probability far inferior to the truth, 
At all events I undoubtedly beheld the whole of the 
earth's major diameter ; the entire northern hemisphere 
lay beneath me like a chart orthographically projected : 
and the great circle of the equator itself formed the boun- 
dary line of my horizon. Your Excellencies may, how- 
ever, readily imagine that the confined regions hitherto 
unexplored within the limits of the Arctic circle, although 
situated directly beneath me, and therefore seen without 
any appearance of being foreshortened, were still, in them- 
selves, comparatively too diminutive, and at too great a 
distance from the point of sight, to admit of any very 
accurate examination. Nevertheless, what could be seen 
was of a nature singular and exciting. Northwardly from 
that huge rim before mentioned, and which, with slight 
qualification, may be called the limit of human discovery 
in these regions, one unbroken, or nearly unbroken, sheet 
of ice continues to extend. In the first few degrees of 
this its progress, its surface is very sensibly flattened, 
farther on depressed into a plane, and finally, becoming 
not a little concave, it terminates, at the Pole itself, in a 
circular centre, sharply defined, whose apparent diameter 
subtended at the balloon an angle of about sixty-five 
seconds, and whose dusky hue, varying in intensity, was, 
at all times, darker than any other spot upon the visible 
hemisphere, and occasionally deepened into the most 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 55 

absolute blackness. Farther than this, little could be 
ascertained. By twelve o'clock the circular centre had 
materially decreased in circumference, and by seven P.M. 
I lost sight of it entirely ; the balloon passing over the 
western limb of the ice, and floating away rapidly in the 
direction of the equator. 

"April Zth. Found a sensible diminution in the earth's 
apparent diameter, besides a material alteration in its 
general color and appearance. The whole visible area 
partook in different degrees of a tint of pale yellow, and 
in some portions had acquired a brilliancy even painful to 
the eye. My view downward was also considerably im- 
peded by the dense atmosphere in the vicinity of the sur- 
face being loaded with clouds, between whose mases I 
could only now and then obtain a glimpse of the earth 
itself. This difficulty of direct vision had troubled me 
more or less for the last forty-eight hours ; but my present 
enormous elevation brought closer together, as it were, 
the floating bodies of vapor, and the inconvenience be- 
came, of course, more and more palpable in proportion to 
my ascent. Nevertheless, I could easily perceive that the 
balloon now hovered above the range of great lakes in the 
continent of North America, and was holding a course, 
due south, which would soon bring me to the tropics. 
This circumstance did not fail to give me the most heart- 
felt satisfaction, and I hailed it as a happy omen of 
ultimate success. Indeed, the direction I had hitherto 
taken, had filled me with uneasiness ; for it was evident 



5(3 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

that, had I continued it much longer, there would have 
been no possibility of my arriving at the moon at all, 
whose orbit is inclined to the ecliptic at only .the small 
angle of 5° 8' 48'. Strange as it may seem, it was only at 
this late period that I began to understand the great error 
I had committed, in not taking my departure from earth 
at some point in the plane of the lunar ellipse. 

"April gth. To-day the earth's diameter was greatly 
diminished, and the color of the surface assumed hourly 
a deeper tint of yellow. The balloon kept steadily on 
her course to the southward, and arrived, at nine P.M., 
over the northern edge of the Mexican Gulf. 

"April 10th. I was suddenly aroused from slumber, 
about five o'clock this morning, by a loud, crackling, and 
terrific sound, for which I could in no manner account. 
It was of very brief duration, but, while it lasted, resem- 
bled nothing in the world of which I had any previous 
experience. It is needless to say that I became exces- 
sively alarmed, having, in the first instance, attributed the 
noise to the bursting of the balloon. I examined all my 
apparatus, however, with great attention, and could dis- 
cover nothing out of order. Spent a great part of the day 
in meditating upon an occurrence so extraordinary, but 
could find no means whatever of accounting for it. Went 
to bed dissatisfied, and in a state of great anxiety and 
agitation. 

"April nth. Found a startling diminution in the ap- 
parent diameter of the earth, and a considerable increase, 






' ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 57 

now observable for the first time, in that of the moon 
itself, which wanted only a few days of being full. It now 
required long and excessive labor to condense within the 
chamber sufficient atmospheric air for the sustenance of 
life. 

"April 12///. A singular alteration took place in re- 
gard to the direction of the balloon, and although fully 
anticipated, afforded me the most unequivocal delight. 
Having reached, in its former course, about the twentieth 
parallel of southern latitude, it turned off suddenly, at an 
acute angle, to the eastward, and thus proceeded through- 
out the day, keeping nearly, if not altogether, in the ex- 
act plane of the lunar ellipse. What was worthy of remark, 
a very perceptible vacillation in the car was a consequence 
of this change of route, — a vacillation which prevailed, in 
a more or less degree, for a period of many hours. 

"April 13th. Was again very much alarmed by a repe- 
tition of the loud crackling noise which terrified me on 
the tenth. Thought long upon the subject, but was un- 
able to form any satisfactory conclusion. Great decrease 
in the earth's apparent diameter, which now subtended 
from the balloon an angle of very little more than twenty- 
five degrees. The moon could not be seen at all, being 
nearly in my zenith. I still continued in the plane of the 
ellipse, but made little progress to the eastward. 

11 April 14th. Extremely rapid decrease in the diam- 
eter of the earth. To-day I became strongly impressed 
with the idea, that the balloon was now actually running 






53 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

up the line of apsides to the point of perigee, — in other 
words, holding the direct course which would bring it im- 
mediately to the moon in that part of its orbit the nearest 
to the earth. The moon itself was directly overhead, and 
consequently hidden from my view. Great and long-con- 
tinued labor necessary for the condensation of the at- 
mosphere. 

"April i$th. Not even the outlines of continents and 
seas could now be traced upon the earth with distinctness. 
About twelve o'clock I became aware, for the third time, 
of that appalling sound which had so astonished me be- 
fore. It now, however, continued for some moments, and 
gathered intensity as it continued. At length, while, 
stupified and terror-stricken, I stood in expectation of I 
knew not what hideous destruction, the car vibrated with 
excessive violence, and a gigantic and flaming mass of 
some material which I could not distinguish, came with a 
voice of a thousand thunders, roaring and booming by the 
balloon. When my fears and astonishment had in some 
degree subsided, I had little difficulty in supposing it to 
be some mighty volcanic fragment ejected from that 
world to which I was so rapidly approaching, and, in all 
probability, one of that singular class of substances oc- 
casionally picked up on the earth, and termed meteoric 
stones for want of a better appellation. 

"April 16th. To-day, looking upward as well as 
could, through each of the side windows alternately, I be- 
held, to my great delight, a very small portion of the 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 59 

moon's disk protruding, as it were, on all sides beyond the 
huge circumference of the balloon. My agitation was ex- 
treme ; for I had now little doubt of soon reaching the 
end of my perilous voyage. Indeed, the labor now re- 
quired by the condenser, had increased to a most oppres- 
sive degree, and allowed me scarcely any respite from ex- 
ertion. Sleep was a matter nearly out of the question. 
I became quite ill, and my frame trembled with exhaust- 
ion. It was impossible that human nature could endure 
this state of intense suffering much longer. During the 
now brief interval of darkness a meteoric stone again 
passed in my vicinity, and the frequency of these phenom- 
ena began to occasion me much apprehension. 

"April ijth. This morning proved an epoch in my 
voyage. It will be remembered that, on the thirteenth, 
the earth subtended an angular breadth of twenty-five 
degrees. On the fourteenth this had greatly diminished ; 
on the. fifteenth a still more remarkable decrease was ob- 
servable ; and, on retiring on the night of the sixteenth, I 
had noticed an angle of no more than about seven degrees 
and fifteen minutes. What, therefore, must have been 
my amazement, on awakening from a brief and disturbed 
slumber, on the morning of this day, the seventeenth, at 
finding the surface beneath me so suddenly and wonder- 
fully augmented in volume, as to subtend no less than 
thirty-nine degrees in apparent angular diameter ! I was 
thunderstruck ! No words can give any adequate idea of 
the extreme, the absolute horror and astonishment, with 



60 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

which I was seized, possessed, and altogether over- 
whelmed. My knees tottered beneath me — my teeth 
chattered — my hair started up on end. ' The balloon, 
then, had actually burst ! ' These were the first tumultuous 
ideas that hurried through my mind : ' The balloon had 
positively burst ! — I was falling — falling with the most im- 
petuous, the most unparalleled velocity ! To judge by 
the immense distance already so quickly passed over, it 
could not be more than ten minutes, at the farthest, be- 
fore I should reach the surface of the earth, and be hurled 
into annihilation ! ' But at length reflection came to my 
relief. I paused ; I considered ; and I began to doubt. 
The matter was impossible. I could not in any reason 
have so rapidly come down. Besides, although I was 
evidently approaching the surface below me, it was with a 
speed by no means commensurate with the velocity I had 
at first conceived. This consideration served to calm the 
perturbation of my mind, and I finally succeeded in re- 
garding the phenomenon in its proper point of view. In 
fact, amazement must have fairly deprived me of my 
senses, when I could not see the vast difference, in ap- 
pearance, between the surface below me, and the surface 
of my mother earth. The latter was indeed over my head, 
and completely hidden by the balloon, while the moon — 
the moon itself in all its glory — lay beneath me, and at 
my feet. 

" The stupor and surprise produced in my mind by this 
extraordinary change in the posture of affairs, was, per- 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 6 1 

haps, after all, that part of the adventure least susceptible 
of explanation. For the bouleversement in itself was not 
only natural and inevitable, but had been long actually 
anticipated as a circumstance to be expected whenever I 
should arrive at that exact point of my voyage where 
the attraction of the planet should be superseded by the 
attraction of the satellite — or, more precisely, where the 
gravitation of the balloon toward the earth should be less 
powerful than its gravitation toward the moon. To be 
sure I arose from a sound slumber, with all my senses in 
confusion, to the contemplation of a very startling phe- 
nomenon, and one which, although expected, was not ex- 
pected at the moment. The revolution itself must, of 
course, have taken place in an easy and gradual manner, 
and it is by no means clear that, had I even been awake at 
the time of the occurrence, I should have been made 
aware of it by any internal evidence of an inversion, — that 
is to say, by any inconvenience or disarrangement, either 
about my person or about my apparatus. 

" It is almost needless to say that, upon coming to a 
due sense of my situation, and emerging from the terror 
which had absorbed every faculty of my soul, my atten- 
tion was, in the first place, wholly directed to the contem- 
plation of the general physical appearance of the moon. 
It lay beneath me like a chart — and although I judged it 
to be still at no inconsiderable distance, the indentures of 
its surface were defined to my vision with a most striking 
and altogether unaccountable distinctness. The entire 



62 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

absence of ocean or sea, and indeed of any lake or river, or 
body of water whatsoever, struck me, at first glance, as the 
most extraordinary feature in its geological condition. Yet, 
strange to say, I beheld vast level regions of a character 
decidedly alluvial, although by far the greater portion of 
the hemisphere in sight was covered with innumerable vol- 
canic mountains, conical in shape, and having more the 
appearance of artificial than of natural protuberances. 
The highest among them does not exceed three and three- 
quarter miles in perpendicular elevation ; but a map of 
the volcanic districts of the Campi Phlegraei would afford 
to your Excellencies a better idea of their general surface 
than any unworthy description I might think proper to 
attempt. The greater part of them were in a state of evi- 
dent eruption, and gave me fearfully to understand their 
fury and their power, by the repeated thunders of the mis- 
called meteoric stones, which now rushed upward by the 
balloon with a frequency more and more appalling. 

"April iSt/i. To-day I found an enormous increase in 
the moon's apparent bulk — and the evidently accelerated 
velocity of my descent began to fill me with alarm. It 
will be remembered, that, in the earliest stage of my 
speculations upon the possibility of a passage to the 
.moon, the existence, in its vicinity, of an atmosphere, 
dense in proportion to the bulk of the planet, had entered 
largely into my calculations ; this too in spite of many 
theories to the contrary, and, it may be added, in spite 
of a general disbelief in the existence of any lunar atmos- 






ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 63 

phere at all. But, in addition to what I have already- 
urged in regard to Encke's comet and the zodiacal light, 
I had been strengthened in my opinion by certain obser- 
vations of Mr. Schroeter, of Lilienthal. He observed the 
moon when two days and a half old, in the evening soon 
after sunset, before the dark part was visible, and con- 
tinued to watch it until it became visible. The two cusps 
appeared tapering in a very sharp faint prolongation, each 
exhibiting its farthest extremity faintly illuminated by 
the solar rays, before any part of the dark hemisphere 
was visible. Soon afterward, the whole dark limb became 
illuminated. This prolongation of the cusps beyond the 
semicircle, I thought, must have arisen from the refraction 
of the sun's rays by the moon's atmosphere. I computed, 
also, the height of the atmosphere (which could refract 
light enough into its dark hemisphere to produce a twi- 
light more luminous than the light reflected from the 
earth when the moon is about 32 from the new) to be 
1356 Paris feet; in this view, I supposed the greatest 
height capable of refracting the solar ray, to be 5376 feet. 
My ideas on this topic had also received confirmation by 
a passage in the eighty-second volume of the Philosophi- 
cal Transactions, in which it is stated, that, at an occupa- 
tion of Jupiter's satellites, the third disappeared after 
having been about 1" or 2" of time indistinct, and the 
fourth became indiscernible near the limb.* 

* Hevelius writes that he has several times found, in skies perfectly clear, 
when even stars of the sixth and seventh magnitude were conspicuous, that, 



64 ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 

" Upon the resistance or, more properly, upon the sup- 
port of an atmosphere, existing in the state of density 
imagined, I had, of course, entirely depended for the 
safety of my ultimate descent. Should I then, after all, 
prove to have been mistaken, I had in consequence 
nothing better to expect, as a finale to my adventure, 
than being dashed into atoms against the rugged surface 
of the satellite. And, indeed, I had now every reason to 
be terrified. My distance from the moon was compara, 
tively trifling, while the labor required by the condense* 
was diminished not at all, and I could discover no indie; 
tion whatever of a decreasing rarity in the air. 

"April igth. This morning, to my great joy, about 
nine o'clock, the surface of the moon being frightfully 
near, and my apprehensions excited to the utmost, th§ 
pump of my condenser at length gave evident tokens of 
an alteration in the atmosphere. By ten, I had reason to 
believe its density considerably increased. By eleven, 
very little labor was necessary at the apparatus ; and at 

at the same altitude of the moon, at the same elongation from the earth, 
and with one and the same excellent telescope, the moon and its maculae 
did not appear equally lucid at all times. From the circumstances of the 
observation, it is evident that the cause of this phenomenon is not either in 
our air, in the tube, in the moon, or in the eye of the spectator, but must be 
looked for in something (an atmosphere ?) existing about the moon. 

Cassini frequently observed Saturn, Jupiter, and the fixed stars, when 
approaching the moon to occultation, to have their circular figure changed 
into an oval one ; and, in other occultations, he found no alteration of figure 
at all. Hence it might be supposed, that at some times, and not at others, 
there is a dense matter encompassing the moon wherein the rays of the stars 
are refracted. 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 65 

twelve o'clock, with some hesitation, I ventured to un- 
screw the tourniquet, when, finding no inconvenience from 
having done so, I finally threw open the gum-elastic 
chamber, and unrigged it from around the car. As might 
have been expected, spasms and violent headache were 
the immediate consequences of an experiment so precipi- 
tate and full of danger. But these and other difficulties 
attending respiration, as they were by no means so great 
as to put me in peril of my life, I determined to endure 
as I best could, in consideration of my leaving them 
behind me momently in my approach to the denser 
strata near the moon. This approach, however, was 
still impetuous in the extreme ; and it soon became 
alarmingly certain that, although I had probably not 
been deceived in the expectation of an atmosphere 
dense in proportion to the mass of the satellite, still 
I had been wrong in supposing this density, even at 
the surface, at all adequate to the support of the great 
weight contained in the car of my balloon. Yet this 
should have been the case, and in an equal degree as at 
the surface of the earth, the actual gravity of bodies at 
either planet supposed in the ratio of the atmospheric 
condensation. That it was not the case, however, my 
precipitous downfall gave testimony enough ; why it was 
not so, can only be explained by a reference to those pos- 
sible geological disturbances to which I have formerly 
alluded. At all events I was now close upon the planet, 
and coming down with the most terrible impetuosity. I 






66 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

lost not a moment, accordingly, in throwing overboard 
first my ballast, then my water-kegs, then my condensing 
apparatus and gum-elastic chamber, and finally every 
article within the car. But it was all to no purpose. I 
still fell with horrible rapidity, and was now not more 
than half a mile from the surface. As a last resource, 
therefore, having got rid of my coat, hat, and boots, I 
cut loose from the balloon the car itself, which was of no 
inconsiderable weight, and thus, clinging with both hands 
to the net-work, I had barely time to observe that the 
whole country, as far as the eye could reach, was thickly 
interspersed with diminutive habitations, ere I tumbled 
headlong into the very heart of a fantastical-looking city, 
and into the middle of a vast crowd of ugly little people, 
who none of them uttered a single syllable, or gave them- 
selves the least trouble to render me assistance, but stood, 
like a parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous manner, and 
eyeing me and my balloon askant, with their arms set 
a-kimbo. I turned from them in contempt, and, gazing 
upward at the earth so lately left, and left perhaps for 
ever, beheld it like a huge, dull, copper shield, about two 
degrees in diameter, fixed immovably in the heavens 
overhead, and tipped on one of its edges with a crescent 
border of the most brilliant gold. No traces of land or 
water could be discovered, and the whole was clouded 
with variable spots, and belted with tropical and equa- 
torial zones. 

" Thus, may it please your Excellencies, after a series 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 67 

of great anxieties, unheard-of dangers, and unparalleled es- 
capes, I had, at length, on the nineteenth day of my de- 
parture from Rotterdam, arrived in safety at the conclusion 
of a voyage undoubtedly the most extraordinary, and the 
most momentous, ever accomplished, undertaken, or 
conceived by any denizen of earth. But my adventures 
yet remain to be related. And indeed your Excellencies 
may well imagine that, after a residence of five years upon 
a planet not only deeply interesting in its own peculiar 
character, but rendered doubly so by its intimate connec- 
tion, in capacity of satellite, with the world inhabited by 
man, I may have intelligence for the private ear of the 
States' College of Astronomers of far more importance 
than the details, however wonderful, of the mere voyage 
which so happily concluded. This is, in fact, the case. 
I have much — very much which it would give me the 
greatest pleasure to communicate. I have much to say 
of the climate of the planet ; of its wonderful alternations 
of heat and cold ; of unmitigated and burning sunshine 
for one fortnight, and more than polar frigidity for the 
next ; of a constant transfer of moisture, by distillation 
like that in vacuo, from the point beneath the sun to 
the point the farthest from it ; of a variable zone of 
running water ; of the people themselves ; of their 
manners, customs, and political institutions ; of their 
peculiar physical construction ; of their ugliness ; of their 
want of ears, those useless appendages in an atmosphere 
so peculiarly modified ; of their consequent ignorance of 



68 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

the use and properties of speech ; of their substitute for 
speech in a singular method of inter-communication ; of 
the incomprehensible connection between each particular 
individual in the moon with some particular individual on 
the earth — a connection analogous with, and depending 
upon, that of the orbs of the planet and the satellite, and 
by means of which the lives and destinies of the inhab- 
itants of the one are interwoven with the lives and desti- 
nies of the inhabitants of the other ; and above all, if it so 
please your Excellencies — above all, of those dark and 
hideous mysteries which lie in the outer regions of the 
moon, — regions which, owing to the almost miraculous 
accordance of the satellite's rotation on its own axis with 
its sidereal revolution about the earth, have never yet been 
turned, and, by God's mercy, never shall be turned, to the 
scrutiny of the telescopes of man. All this, and more — 
much more — would I most willingly detail. But, to be 
brief, I must have my reward. I am pining for a return 
to my family and to my home ; and as the price of any 
farther communication on my part — in consideration of 
the light which I have it in my power to throw upon 
many very important branches of physical and metaphysi- 
cal science — I must solicit, through the influence of your 
honorable body, a pardon for the crime of which I have 
been guilty in the death of the creditors upon my departure 
from Rotterdam. This, then, is the object of the present 
paper. Its bearer, an inhabitant of the moon, whom I 
have prevailed upon, and properly instructed, to be my 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 69 

messenger to the earth, will await your Excellencies' 
pleasure, and return to me with the pardon in question, 
if it can, in any manner, be obtained. 

" I have the honor to be, etc., your Excellencies' very 
humble servant, Hans PFAALL." 

Upon finishing the perusal of this very extraordinary 
document, Professor Rubadub, it is said, dropped his 
pipe upon the ground in the extremity of his surprise, 
and Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk having taken off 
his spectacles, wiped them, and deposited them in his 
pocket, so far forgot both himself and his dignity, as to 
turn round three times upon his heel in the quintessence 
of astonishment and admiration. There was no doubt 
about the matter — the pardon should be obtained. So at 
least swore, with a round oath, Professor Rubadub, and 
so finally thought the illustrious Von Underduk, as he 
took the arm of his brother in science, and without saying 
a word, began to make the best of his way home to de- 
liberate upon the measures to be adopted. Having 
reached the door, however, of the burgomaster's dwelling, 
the professor ventured to suggest that as the messenger 
had thought proper to disappear — no doubt frightened to 
death by the savage appearance of the burghers of Rot- 
terdam — the pardon would be of little use, as no one but 
a man of the moon would undertake a voyage to so vast 
a distance. To the truth of this observation the burgo- 
master assented, and the matter was therefore at an end. 



70 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

Not so, however, rumors and speculations. The letter, 
having been published, gave rise to a variety of gossip 
and opinion. Some of the over-wise even made them- 
selves ridiculous by decrying the whole business as noth- 
ing better than a hoax. But hoax, with these sort of 
people, is, I believe, a general term for all matters above 
their comprehension. For my part, I cannot conceive 
upon what data they have founded such an accusation. 
Let us see what they say : 

Imprimis. That certain wags in Rotterdam have cer- 
tain especial antipathies to certain burgomasters and 
astronomers. 

Secondly. That an odd little dwarf and bottle conjurer, 
both of whose ears, for some misdemeanor, have been cut 
off close to his head, has been missing for several days 
from the neighboring city of Bruges. 

Thirdly. That the newspapers which were stuck all 
over the little balloon were newspapers of Holland, and 
therefore could not have been made in the moon. They 
were dirty papers — very dirty — and Gluck, the printer, 
would take his bible oath to their having been printed in 
Rotterdam. 

Fourthly. That Hans Pfaall himself, the drunken 
villain, and the three very idle gentlemen styled his 
creditors, were all seen, no longer than two or three days 
ago, in a tippling house in the suburbs, having just re- 
turned, with money in their pockets, from a trip beyond 
the sea. 



ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 7 1 

Lastly. That it is an opinion very generally received, 
or which ought to be generally received, that the College 
of Astronomers in the city of Rotterdam, as well as all 
other colleges in all other parts of the world, — not to 
mention colleges and astronomers in general, — are, to say 
the least of the matter, not a whit better, nor greater, nor 
wiser than they ought to be. 

Note. — Strictly speaking, there is but little similarity between the above 
sketchy trifle and the celebrated '' Moon-Story " of Mr. Locke ; but as both 
have the character of hoaxes, (although the one is in a tone of banter, the 
other of downright earnest,) and as both hoaxes are on the same subject, the 
moon, — moreover, as both attempt to give plausibility by scientific detail, — 
the author of " Hans Pfaall " thinks it necessary to say, in self-defence, that 
his own jeu d y esprit was published, in the Southern Literary Messenger, 
about three weeks before the commencement of Mr. L's in the New York 
Sun. Fancying a likeness which, perhaps, does not exist, some of the New 
York papers copied " Hans Pfaall," and collated it with the " Moon-Hoax," 
by way of detecting the writer of the one in the writer of the other. 

As many more persons were actually gulled by the " Moon-Hoax" than 
would be willing to acknowledge the fact, it may here afford some little 
amusement to show why no one should have been deceived — to point out 
those particulars of the story which should have been sufficient to establish 
its real character. Indeed, however rich the imagination displayed in this 
ingenious fiction, it wanted much of the force which might have been given 
it by a more scrupulous attention to facts and to general analogy. That the 
public were misled, even for an instant, merely proves the gross ignorance 
which is so generally prevalent upon subjects of an astronomical nature. 

The moon's distance from the earth is, in round numbers, 240,000 miles. 
If we desire to ascertain how near, apparently, a lens would bring the satel- 
lite (or any distant object), we, of course, have but to divide the distance by 
the magnifying or, more strictly, by the space-penetrating power of the 
glass. Mr. L. makes his lens have a power of 42,000 times. By this divide 
240,000 (the moon's real distance), and we have five miles and five sevenths, 
as the apparent distance. No animal at all could be seen so far ; much less 
the minute points particularized in the story. Mr. L. speaks about Sir John 
Herschel's perceiving flowers (the Papaver rheas, etc.), and even detecting 
the color and the shape of the eyes of small birds. Shortly before, too, he 






«^r-<0 



.y 



72 ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 

has himself observed that the lens would not render perceptible objects of 
less than eighteen inches in diameter ; but even this, as I have said, is giv- 
ing the glass by far too great power. It may be observed, in passing, that 
this prodigious glass is said to have been moulded at the glass-house of 
Messrs. Hartley and Grant, in Dumbarton ; but Messrs. H. and G's estab- 
lishment had ceased operations for many years previous to the publication of 
the hoax. 

On page 13, pamphlet edition, speaking of " a hairy veil " over the eyes 
of a species of bison, the author says: "It immediately occurred to the 
acute mind of Dr. Herschel that this was a providential contrivance to pro- 
tect the eyes of the animal from the great extremes of light and darkness 
to which all the inhabitants of our side of the moon are periodically subject- 
ed." But this cannot be thought a very " acute " observation of the Doctor's. 
The inhabitants of our side of the moon have, evidently, no darkness at all, 
so there can be nothing of the " extremes" mentioned. In the absence of 4 
the sun they have a light from the earth equal to that of thirteen full un- 
clouded moons. 

The topography throughout, even when professing to accord with Blunt's 
Lunar Chart, is entirely at variance with that or any other lunar chart, and 
even grossly at variance with itself. The points of the compass, too, are in 
inextricable confusion ; the writer appearing to be ignorant that, on a lunar 
map, these are not in accordance with terrestrial points ; the east being to 
the left, etc. 

Deceived, perhaps, by the vague titles, Mare Nubium, Mare Tranquilli- 
tatis, Mare Fcecunditatis , etc., given to the dark spots by former astrono- 
mers, Mr. L. has entered into details regarding oceans and other large bodies 
of water in the moon ; whereas there is no astronomical point more positively 
ascertained than that no such bodies exist there. In examining the boundary 
between light and darkness (in the crescent or gibbous moon) where this 
boundary crosses any of the dark places, the line of division is found to be 
rough and jagged ; but, were these dark places liquid, it would evidently be 
even. 

The description of the wings of the man-bat, on page 21, is but a literal 
copy of Peter Wilkins' account of the wings of his flying islanders. This 
simple fact should have induced suspicion, at least, it might be thought. 

On page 23, we have the following : "What a prodigious influence must 
our thirteen times larger globe have exercised upon this satellite when an 
embryo in the womb of time, the passive subject of chemical affinity ! " This 
is very fine ; but it should be observed that no astronomer would have made 
such remark, especially to any Journal of Science ; for the earth, in the 
sense intended, is not only thirteen, but forty-nine times larger than the 



ADVENTURE OF HANS PEA ALL. 73 

moon. A similar objection applies to the whole of the concluding pages, 
where, by way of introduction to some discoveries in Saturn, the philosophi- 
cal correspondent enters into a minute school-boy account of that planet : — 
this to the Edinburgh Journal of Science / 

But there is one point, in particular, which should have betrayed the fic- 
tion. Let us imagine the power actually possessed of seeing animals upon 
the moon's surface ; — what would first arrest the attention of an observer 
from the earth ? Certainly neither their shape, size, nor any other such pe- 
culiarity, so soon as their remarkable situation. They would appear to be 
walking, with heels up and head down, in the manner of flies on a ceiling. 
The real observer would have uttered an instant ejaculation of surprise (how- 
ever prepared by previous knowledge) at the singularity of their position; 
the fictitious observer has not even mentioned the subject, but speaks of see- 
ing the entire bodies of such creatures, when it is demonstrable that he could 
have seen only the diameter of their heads ! 

It might as well be remarked, in conclusion, that the size, and particularly 
the powers of the man-bats (for example, their ability to fly in so rare an at- 
mosphere — if, indeed, the moon have any), with most of the other fancies 
in regard to animal and vegetable existence, are at variance, generally, with 
all analogical reasoning on these themes ; and that analogy here will often 
amount to conclusive demonstration. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to 
add, that all the suggestions attributed to Brewster and Herschel, in the 
beginning of the article, about " a transfusion of artificial light through the 
focal object of vision," etc., etc., belong to that species of figurative writing 
which comes, most properly, under the denomination of rigmarole. 

There is a real and very definite limit to optical discovery among the 
stars — a limit whose nature need only be stated to be understood. If, in- 
deed, the casting of large lenses were all that is required, man's ingenuity 
would ultimately prove equal to the task, and we might have them of any 
size demanded. But, unhappily, in proportion to the increase of size in the 
lens, and consequently, of space-penetrating power, is the diminution of light 
from the object, by diffusion of its rays. And for this evil there is no rem- 
edy within human ability ; for an object is seen by means of that light alone 
which proceeds from itself, whether direct or reflected. Thus the only " ar- 
tificial" light which could avail Mr. Locke, would be some artificial light 
which he should be able to throw — not upon the "focal object of vision," 
but upon the real object to be viewed — to wit : upon the moon. It has been 
easily calculated that, when the light proceeding from a star becomes so 
diffused as to be as weak as the natural light proceeding from the whole of 
the stars, in a clear and moonless night, then the star is no longer visible for 
any practical purpose. 



74 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

The Earl of Ross telescope, lately constructed in England, has a speculum 
with a reflecting surface of 4071 square inches ; the Herschel telescope 
having one of only 181 1, The metal of the Earl of Ross' is 6 feet diame- 
ter ; it is 5 1 inches thick at the edges, and 5 at the centre. The weight is 
3 tons. The focal length is 50 feet. 

I have lately read a singular and somewhat ingenious little book, whose 
title-page runs thus : — " L* Homme dans la lvne, ou le Voyage Chimerique 
fait au Monde de la Lvne, nouuellement decouuert par Dominique Gonzales, 
Aduanturier Espagnol, autremet dit le Courier volant. Mis en notre langve 
par J. B. D. A. Paris, chez Francois Piot, pres la Fontaine de Saint Benoist. 
Et chez J. Goignard, au premier pilier de la grand' salle du Palais, proche 
les Consultations, MDCXLVII." Pp. 176. 

The writer professes to have translated his work from the English of one 
Mr. D' Avisson (Davidson ?) although there is a terrible ambiguity in the 
statement. " I' en ai eu," says he, " 1' original de Monsieur D' Avisson, mede- 
cin des mieux versez qui soient aujourd'huy dans la conoissance des Belles 
Lettres, et sur tout de la Philosophic Naturelle. Je lui ai cette obligation 
entre les autres, de m' auoir non seulement mis en main ce Livre en anglois, 
mais encore le Manuscrit du Sieur Thomas D' Anan, gentilhomme Eccossois, 
recommandable pour sa vertu, sur la version duquel j' advoue que j' ay tire le 
plan de la mienne." 

After some irrelevant adventures, much in the manner of Gil Bias, and 
which occupy the first thirty pages, the author relates that, being ill during 
a sea voyage, the crew abandoned him, together with a negro servant, on 
the island of St. Helena. To increase the chances of obtaining food, the 
two separate, and live as far apart as possible. This brings about a train- 
ing of birds, to serve the purpose of carrier-pigeons between them. By and 
by these are taught to carry parcels of some weight — and this weight is 
gradually increased. At length the idea is entertained of uniting the force 
of a great number of the birds, with a view to raising the author himself. 
A machine is contrived for the purpose, and we have a minute description 
of it, which is materially helped out by a steel engraving. Here we per- 
ceive the Signor Gonzales, with point ruffles and a huge periwig, seated 
astride something which resembles very closely a broomstick, and borne 
aloft by a multitude of wild swans (ganzas) who had strings reaching from 
their tails to the machine. 

The main event detailed in the Signor's narrative depends upon a very 
important fact, of which the reader is kept in ignorance until near the end 
of the book. The ganzas, with whom he had become so familiar, were not 
really denizens of St. Helena, but of the moon. Thence it had been their 
custom, time out of mind, to migrate annually to some portion of the earth. 






ADVENTURE OF HANS PFAALL. 75 

In proper season, of course, they would return home ; and the author, hap- 
pening, one day, to require their services for a short voyage, is unexpectedly 
carried straight up, and in a very brief period arrives at the satellite. Here 
he finds, among other odd things, that the people enjoy extreme happiness ; 
that they have no law ; that they die without pain ; that they are from ten 
to thirty feet in height ; that they live five thousand years ; that they have 
an emperor called Irdonozur ; and that they can jump sixty feet high, when, 
being out of the gravitating influence, they fly about with fans. 

I cannot forbear giving a specimen of the general philosophy of the 
volume. 

"I must now declare to you," says the Signor Gonzales, " the nature of 
the place in which I found myself. All the clouds were beneath my feet, 
or, if you please, spread between me and the earth. As to the stars, since 
there was no night where I was, they always had the same appearance ; not 
brilliant, as usual, but pale, and very nearly like the moon of a morning. 
But few of them were visible, and these ten times larger (as well as I could 
judge), than they seem to the inhabitants of the earth. The moon which 
wanted two days of being full, was of a terrible bigness. 

" I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side of the 
globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to it the 
larger they seemed. I have also to inform you that, whether it was calm 
weather or stormy, I found myself always immediately between the moon and 
the earth. I was convinced of this for two reasons — because my birds 
always flew in a straight line ; and because whenever we attempted to rest, 
we were carried insensibly around the globe of the earth. For I admit the 
opinion of Copernicus, who maintains that it never ceases to revolve from 
the east to the west, not upon the poles of the Equinoctial, commonly called 
the poles of the world, but upon those of the Zodiac, a question of which I 
propose to speak more at length hereafter, when I shall have leisure to 
refresh my memory in regard to the astrology which I learned at Salamanca 
when young, and have since forgotten." 

Notwithstanding the blunders italicized, the book is not without some 
claim to attention, as affording a naive specimen of the current astronomical 
notions of the time. One of these assumed, that the " gravitating power" 
extended but a short distance from the earth's surface, and, accordingly, we 
find our voyager " carried insensibly around the globe," etc. 

There have been other " voyages to the moon," but none of higher merit 
than the one just mentioned. That of Bergerac is utterly meaningless. In 
the third volume of the American Quarterly Review will be found quite an 
elaborate criticism upon a certain "Journey " of the kind in question ; — a 
criticism in which it is difficult to say whether the critic most exposes the 



/6 ADVENTURE OF HANS P FA ALL. 

stupidity of the book, or his own absurd ignorance of astronomy. I forget 
the title of the work ; but the means of the voyage are more deplorably ill 
conceived than are even the ganzas of our friend the Signor Gonzales. The 
adventurer, in digging the earth, happens to discover a peculiar metal for 
which the moon has a strong attraction, and straightway constructs of it a 
box, which, when cast loose from its terrestrial fastenings, flies with him, 
forthwith, to the satellite. The "Flight of Thomas O'Rourke," is a jeu 
a" esprit not altogether contemptible, and has been translated into German. 
Thomas, the hero, was, in fact, the game-keeper of an Irish peer, whose ec- 
centricities gave rise to the tale. The " flight " is made on an eagle's back, 
from Hungry Hill, a lofty mountain at the end of Bantry Bay. 

In these various brochures the aim is always satirical ; the theme being a 
description of Lunarian customs as compared with ours. In none, is there 
any effort at plausibility in the details of the voyage itself. The writers 
seem, in each instance, to be utterly uninformed in respect to astronomy. In 
11 Hans Pfaall" the design is original, inasmuch as regards an attempt at 
verisimilitude y in the application of scientific principles (so far as the whim- 
sical nature of the subject would permit), to the actual passage between the 
earth and the moon. 





y>/// '/y//r/ 




THE GOLD-BUG. 



What ho ! what ho ! this fellow is dancing mad ! 
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula. 

— All in the Wrong. 

MANY years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. 
William Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot 
family, and had once been wealthy ; but a series of mis- 
fortunes had reduced him to want. To avoid the mortifi- 
cation consequent upon his disasters, he left New Orleans, 
the city of his forefathers, and took up his residence at 
Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. 

This island is a very singular one. It consists of little 
else than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its 
breadth at no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is 
separated from the mainland by a scarcely perceptible 
creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and 
slime, a favorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetation, 
as might be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. No 
trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the wes- 
tern extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where 
are some miserable frame buildings, tenanted, during sum- 

77 



78 THE GOLD-BUG. 

mer, by the fugitives from Charleston dust and fever, may 
be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto ; but the whole 
island, with the exception of this western point, and a line 
of hard, white beach on the sea-coast, is covered with a 
dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle so much prized 
by the horticulturists of England. The shrub here often 
attains the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and forms an 
almost impenetrable coppice, burthening the air with its 
fragrance. 

In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the 
eastern or more remote end of the island, Legrand had 
built himself a small hut, which he occupied when I first, 
by mere accident, made his acquaintance. This soon 
ripened into friendship — for there was much in the recluse 
to excite interest and esteem. I found him well educated, 
with unusual powers of mind, but infected with misan- 
thropy, and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthu- 
siasm and melancholy. He had with him many books, 
but rarely employed them. His chief amusements were 
gunning and fishing, or sauntering along the beach and 
through the myrtles, in quest of shells or entomological 
specimens — his collection of the latter might have been 
envied by a Swammerdamm. In these excursions he was 
usually accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who 
had been manumitted before the reverses of the family, 
but who could be induced, neither by threats nor b} 
promises, to abandon what he considered his right ol 
attendance upon the footsteps of his young " Massa Will.' 



THE GOLD-BUG. 79 

It is not improbable that the relatives of Legrand, conceiv- 
ing him to be somewhat unsettled in intellect, had con- 
trived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a view to 
the supervision and guardianship of the wanderer. 

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are 
seldom very severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare 
event indeed when a fire is considered necessary. About 
the middle of October, 18 — , there occurred, however, 
a day of remarkable chilliness. Just before sunset I 
scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut of 
my friend, whom I had not visited for several weeks — my 
residence being, at that time, in Charleston, a distance of 
nine miles from the island, while the facilities of passage 
and re-passage were very far behind those of the present 
day. Upon reaching the hut I rapped, as was my custom, 
and getting no reply, sought for the key where I knew it 
was secreted, unlocked the door, and went in. A fine fire 
was blazing upon the hearth. It was a novelty, and by 
no means an ungrateful one. I threw off an overcoat, 
took an arm-chair by the crackling logs, and awaited 
patiently the arrival of my hosts. 

Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial 
welcome. Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about 
to prepare some marsh-hens for supper. Legrand was in 
one of his fits — how else shall I term them ? — of enthusi- 
asm. He had found an unknown bivalve, forming a new 
genus, and, more than this, he had hunted down and se- 
cured, with Jupiter's assistance, a scarabczus which he 



80 THE GOLD-BUG. 

believed to be totally new, but in respect to which he 
wished to have my opinion on the morrow. 

" And why not to-night ? " I asked, rubbing my hands 
over the blaze, and wishing the whole tribe of scarabczi at 
the devil. 

" Ah, if I had only known you were here ! " said Le- 
grand, " but it 's so long since I saw you ; and how could 
I foresee that you would pay me a visit this very night of 
all others? As I was coming home I met Lieutenant 

G , from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him the 

bug ; so it will be impossible for you to see it until the 
morning. Stay here to-night, and I will send Jup down 
for it at sunrise. It is the loveliest thing in creation ! " 

" What ?— sunrise ? " 

" Nonsense ! no ! — the bug. It is of a brilliant gold 
color — about the size of a large hickory-nut — with two jet 
black spots near one extremity of the back, and another, 
somewhat longer, at the other. The antenna are — " 

" Dey aint no tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin* on 
you," here interrupted Jupiter ; " de bug is a goole-bug, 
solid, ebery bit of him, inside and all, sep him wing — neber 
feel half so hebby a bug in my life." 

" Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat 
more earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded ; 
" is that any reason for your letting the birds burn ? The 
color " — here he turned to me — ** is really almost enough 
to warrant Jupiter's idea. You never saw a more brilliant 
metallic lustre than the scales emit — but of this you can- 



THE GOLD-BUG. 8 1 

not judge till to-morrow. In the meantime I can give 
you some idea of the shape." Saying this, he seated him- 
self at a small table, on which were a pen and ink, but no 
paper. He looked for some in a drawer, but found none. 

" Never mind," he said at length, "this will answer" ; 
and he drew from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I 
took to be very dirty foolscap, and made upon it a rough 
drawing with the pen. While he did this, I retained my 
seat by the fire, for I was still chilly. When the design 
was complete, he handed it to me without rising. As I 
received it, a loud growl was heard, succeeded by a scratch- 
ing at the door. Jupiter opened it, and a large Newfound- 
land, belonging to Legrand, rushed in, leaped upon my 
shoulders, and loaded me with caresses ; for I had shown 
him much attention during previous visits. When his 
gambols were over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak 
the truth, found myself not a little puzzled at what my 
friend had depicted. 

" Well ! " I said, after contemplating it for some min- 
utes, " this is a strange scarabceus, I must confess ; new to 
me ; never saw any thing like it before — unless it was a 
skull, or a death's-head, which it more nearly resembles 
than any thing else that has come under my observation." 

" A death's-head ! " echoed Legrand. " Oh — yes — well, 
it has something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt. 
The two upper black spots look like eyes, eh ? and the 
Longer one at the bottom like a mouth — and then the 
shape of the whole is oval." 



82 THE GOLD-BUG. 

" Perhaps so," said I ; " but, Legrand, I fear you are no 
artist. I must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am 
to form any idea of its personal appearance." 

" Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, " I draw 
tolerably — should do it at least — have had good masters, 
and flatter myself that I am not quite a blockhead." 

" But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, 
" this is a very passable skull — indeed, I may say that it 
is a very excellent skull, according to the vulgar notions 
about such specimens of physiology — and your scarabceus 
must be the queerest scarabceus in the world if it resembles 
it. Why, we may get up a very thrilling bit of supersti- 
tion upon this hint. I presume you will call the bug 
scarabcEiis caput hominis, or something of that kind — there 
are many similar titles in the Natural Histories. But 
where are the antenna you spoke of ? " 

" The antennce ! " said Legrand, who seemed to be 
getting unaccountably warm upon the subject ; " I am 
sure you must see the antennce. I made them as distinct 
as they are in the original insect, and I presume that is 
sufficient." 

" Well, well," I said, " perhaps you have — still I don't 
see them " ; and I handed him the paper without addi- 
tional remark, not wishing to ruffle his temper ; but I was 
much surprised at the turn affairs had taken ; his ill humor 
puzzled me — and, as for the drawing of the beetle, there 
were positively no antennce visible, and the whole did bear 
a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death's- 
head. 






THE GOLD-BUG. 83 

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to 
crumple it, apparently to throw it in the fire, when a 
casual glance at the design seemed suddenly to rivet his 
attention. In an instant his face grew violently red — 
in another as excessively pale. For some minutes he con- 
tinued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat. 
At length he arose, took a candle from the table, and pro- 
ceeded to seat himself upon a sea-chest in the farthest 
corner of the room. Here again he made an anxious ex- 
amination of the paper ; turning it in all directions. He 
said nothing, however, and his conduct greatly astonished 
me ; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the grow- 
ing moodiness of his temper by any comment. Presently 
he took from his coat-pocket a wallet, placed the paper 
carefully in it, and deposited both in a writing-desk, which 
he locked. He now grew more composed in his de- 
meanor ; but his original air of enthusiasm had quite dis- 
appeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky as abstracted. 
As the evening wore away he became more and more ab- 
sorbed in revery, from which no sallies of mine could 
arouse him. It had been my intention to pass the night 
at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but, seeing my 
host in this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave. He 
did not press me to remain, but, as I departed, he shook 
my hand with even more than his usual cordiality. 

It was about a month after this (and during the interval 
I had seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at 
Charleston, from his man, Jupiter. I had never seen the 



84 THE GOLD-BUG. 

good old negro look so dispirited, and I feared that some 
serious disaster had befallen my friend. 

" Well, Jup," said I, " what is the matter now ? — how is 
your master ? " 

" Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well 
as mought be." 

" Not well ! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does 
he complain of? " 

"Dar! dat 5 s it! — him neber 'plain of notin' — but him 
berry sick for all dat." 

" Very sick, Jupiter ! — why did n't you say so at once? 
Is he confined to bed ? " 

"No, dat he aint! — he aint 'fin'd nowhar — dat 's just 
whar de shoe pinch — my mind is got to be berry hebby 
'bout poor Massa Will." 

" Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are 
talking about. You say your master is sick. Has n't he 
told you what ails him ? " 

" Why, massa, 't aint worf while for to git mad about 
de matter — Massa Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid 
him — but den what make him go about looking dis here 
way, wid he head down and he soldiers up, and as white 
as a gose ? And den he keep a syphon all de time — " 

" Keeps a what, Jupiter ? " 

" Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate — de queer- 
est figgurs I ebber did see. Ise gittin' to be skeered, I 
tell you. Hab for to keep mighty tight eye 'pon him 
'noovers. Todder day he gib me slip 'fore de sun up and 



THE GOLD-BUG. 85 

was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a big stick 
ready cut for to gib him deuced good beating when he did 
come — but Ise sich a fool dat I had n't de heart arter all 
— he looked so berry poorly." 

" Eh ? — what ? — ah yes ! — upon the whole I think you 
had better not be too severe with the poor fellow — don't 
flog him, Jupiter — he can't very well stand it — but can you 
form no idea of what has occasioned this illness, or rather 
this change of conduct ? Has any thing unpleasant hap- 
pened since I saw you? " 

" No, massa, dey aint bin noffin onpleasant since den — 
't was 'fore den I 'm feared — 't was de berry day you was 
dare." 

" How ? what do you mean ? " 

" Why, massa, I mean de bug — dare now." 

"The what?" 

11 De bug — I 'm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin bit 
somewhere 'bout de head by dat goole-bug." 

"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a suppo- 
sition?" 

" Claws enuff, massa, and mouff too. I nebber did see 
sich a deuced bug — he kick and he bite ebery ting what 
cum near him. Massa Will cotch him fuss, but had for 
to let him go 'gin mighty quick, I tell you — den was de 
time he must ha' got de bite. I did n't like de look ob de 
bug mouff, myself, nohow, so I would n't take hold ob 
him wid my finger, but I cotch him wid a piece ob paper 
dat I found. I rap him up in de paper and stuff a piece 
of it in he mouff — dat was de way." 



86 THE GOLD-BUG. 

"And you think, then, that your master was really bit- 
ten by the beetle, and that the bite made him sick ? " 

" I do n't think noffin' about it — I nose it. What make 
him dream 'bout de goole so much, if 't aint cause he bit 
by the goole-bug ? Ise heerd 'bout dem goole-bugs 'fore 
dis." 

" But how do you know he dreams about gold ? " 

" How I know? why, 'cause he talk about it in he sleep 
— dat's how I nose." 

" Well, Jup, perhaps you are right ; but to what for- 
tunate circumstance am I to attribute the honor of a visit 
from you to-day?" 

" What de matter, massa? " 

" Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand ? " 

" No, massa, I bring dis here pissel " ; and here Jupiter 
handed me a note which ran thus : 

" My Dear 



" Why have I not seen you for so long a time ? I hope you 
have not been so foolish as to take offence at any little brus- 
querie of. mine ; but no, that is improbable. 

" Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety. I 
have something to tell you, yet scarcely know how to tell it, or 
whether I should tell it at all. 

" I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor 
old Jup annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well- 
meant attentions. Would you believe it ? — he had prepared a 
huge stick, the other day, with which to chastise me for giving 
him the slip, and spending the day, solus, among the hills on 



THE COLD-BUG. 87 

the main land. I verily believe that my ill looks alone saved 
me a flogging. 

" I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met. 

" If you can, in any way, make it convenient, come over with 
Jupiter. Do come. I wish to see you to-night, upon business 
of importance. I assure you that it is of the highest im- 
portance. Ever yours, 

" William Legrand." 

There was something in the tone of this note which 
gave me great uneasiness. Its whole style differed mate- 
rially from that of Legrand. What could he be dreaming 
of ? What new crotchet possessed his excitable brain ? 
What " business of the highest importance " could he 
possibly have to transact ? Jupiter's account of him 
boded no good. I dreaded lest the continued pressure 
of misfortune had, at length, fairly unsettled the reason 
of my friend. Without a moment's hesitation, therefore, 
I prepared to accompany the negro. 

Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three 
spades, all apparently new, lying in the bottom of the 
boat in which we were to embark. 

" What is the meaning of all this, Jup ? " I inquired. 

" Him syfe, massa, and spade.*' 

" Very true ; but what are they doing here ? " 

" Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis 'pon 
my buying for him in de town, and de debbil's own lot of 
money I had to gib for 'em." 



88 THE GOLD-BUG. 

" But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is 
your ' Massa Will' going to do with scythes and spades?" 

" Dat 's more dan /know, and debbil take me if I don't 
b'lieve *t is more dan he know too. But it 's all cum ob 
de bug." 

Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of 
Jupiter, whose whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by 
" de bug," I now stepped into the boat, and made sail. 
With a fair and strong breeze we soon ran into the little 
cove to the northward of Fort Moultrie, and a walk of 
some two miles brought us to the hut. It was about 
three in the afternoon when we arrived. Legrand had 
been awaiting us in eager expectation. He grasped my 
hand with a nervous empressement which alarmed me and 
strengthened the suspicions already entertained. His 
countenance was pale even to ghastliness, and his deep- 
set eyes glared with unnatural lustre. After some inqui- 
ries respecting his health, I asked him, not knowing what 
better to say, if he had yet obtained the scarabceus from 
Lieutenant G . 

11 Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, " I got it 
from him the next morning. Nothing should tempt me 
to part with that scarabceus. Do you know that Jupiter 
is quite right about it ? " 

" In what way," I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart. 

" In supposing it to be a bug of real gold." He said 
this with an air of profound seriousness, and I felt inex- 
pressibly shocked. 






THE GOLD-BUG. 89 



" This bug is to make my fortune," he continued, with 
a triumphant smile; " to reinstate me in my family posses- 
sions. Is it any wonder, then, that I prize it ? Since 
Fortune has thought fit to bestow it upon me, I have only 
to use it properly, and I shall arrive at the gold of which 
it is the index. Jupiter, bring me that scarabceus / " 

" What ! de bug, massa ? I 'd rudder not go fer trubble 
dat bug ; you mus' git him for your own self." Hereupon 
Legrand arose, with a grave and stately air, and brought 
me the beetle from a glass case in which it was enclosed. 
It was a beautiful scarabceus, and, at that time, unknown 
to naturalists — of course a great prize in a scientific point 
of- view. There were two round black spots near one 
extremity of the back, and a long one near the other. 
The scales were exceedingly hard and glossy, with all the 
appearance of burnished gold. The weight of the insect 
was very remarkable, and, taking all things into consid- 
eration, I could hardly blame Jupiter for his opinion 
respecting it ; but what to make of Legrand's concord- 
ance with that opinion, I could not, for the life of me, tell. 

" I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when 
I had completed my examination of the beetle, " I sent 
for you that I might have your counsel and assistance in 
furthering the views of Fate and of the bug — " 

" My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, " you 
are certainly unwell, and had better use some little pre- 
cautions. You shall go to bed, and I will remain with 
you a few days, until you get over this. You are feverish 
and— " 



9° THE GOLD-BUG. 

f 

" Feel my pulse," said he. 

I felt it, and, to say the truth, found not the slightest 
indication of fever. 

" But you may be ill and yet have no fever. Allow me 
this once to prescribe for you. In the first place go to 
bed. In the next — " 

" You are mistaken," he interposed, " I am as well as I 
can expect to be under the excitement which I suffer. If 
you really wish me well, you will relieve this excitement." 

" And how is this to be done ? " 

" Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon an 
expedition into the hills, upon the main land, and, in this 
expedition, we shall need the aid of some person in whom 
we can confide. You are the only one we can trust. 
Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement which you 
now perceive in me will be equally allayed." 

" I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied ; 
" but do you mean to say that this infernal beetle has any 
connection with your expedition into the hills? " 

" It has." 

" Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such ab- 
surd proceeding." 

" I am sorry — very sorry — for we shall have to try it by 
ourselves." 

" Try it by yourselves ! The man is surely mad ! — but 
stay ! — how long do you propose to be absent ? " 

II Probably all night. We shall start immediately, and : 
be back, at all events, by sunrise." 



THE GOLD-BUG. 9 1 

" And will you promise me, upon your honor, that when 
this freak of yours is over, and the bug business (good 
God !) settled to your satisfaction, you will then return 
home and follow my advice implicitly, as that of your 
physician." 

" Yes ; I promise ; and now let us be off, for we have 
no time to lose." 

With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We 
started about four o'clock — Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and 
myself. Jupiter had with him the scythe and spades — 
the whole of which he insisted upon carrying — more 
through fear, it seemed to me, of trusting either of the 
implements within reach of his master, than from any ex- 
cess of industry or complaisance. His demeanor was 
dogged in the extreme, and " dat deuced bug " were the 
sole words which escaped his lips during the journey. 
For my own part, I had charge of a couple of dark lan- 
terns, while Legrand contented himself with the scara- 
bceus, which he carried attached to the end of a bit of 
whip-cord ; twirling it to and fro, with the air of a conjuror, 
as he went. When I observed this last, plain evidence of 
my friend's aberration of mind, I could scarcely refrain 
from tears. I thought it best, however, to humor his 
fancy, at least for the present, or until I could adopt some 
more energetic measures with a chance of success. In the 
meantime I endeavored, but all in vain, to sound him in 
regard to the object of the expedition. Having succeeded 
in inducing me to accompany him, he seemed unwilling 



9 2 THE GOLD-BUG. 

to hold conversation upon any topic of minor importance, 
and to all my questions vouchsafed no other reply than 
" we shall see ! " 

We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means 
of a skiff, and, ascending the high grounds on the shore 
of the main land, proceeded in a northwesterly direction, 
through a tract of country excessively wild and desolate, 
where no. trace of a human footstep was to be seen. Le- 
grand led the way with decision ; pausing only for an 
instant, here and there, to consult what appeared to be 
certain landmarks of his own contrivance upon a former 
occasion. 

In this manner we journed for about two hours, and the 
sun was just setting when we entered a region infinitely 
more dreary than any yet seen. It was a species of table- 
land, near the summit of an almost inaccessible hill, 
densely wooded from base to pinnacle, and interspersed 
with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon the soil, 
and in many cases were prevented from precipitating 
themselves into the valleys below, merely by the support 
of the trees against which they reclined. Deep ravines, 
in various directions, gave an air of still sterner solemnity 
to the scene. 

The natural platform to which we had clambered was 
thickly overgrown with brambles, through which we soon 
discovered that it would have been impossible to force our 
way but for the scythe ; and Jupiter, by direction of his 
master, proceeded to clear for us a path to the foot of an 



THE GOLD-BUG. 93 

enormously tall tulip-tree, which stood, with some eight 
or ten oaks, upon the level, and far surpassed them all, 
and all other trees which I had then ever seen, in the 
beauty of its foliage and form, in the wide spread of its 
branches, and in the general majesty of its appearance. 
When we reached this tree, Legrand turned to Jupiter, 
and asked him if he thought he could climb it. The old 
man seemed a little staggered by the question, and for 
some moments made no reply. At length he approached 
the huge trunk, walked slowly around it, and examined it 
with minute attention. When he had completed his scru- 
tiny, he merely said : • 

" Yes, massa, J up climb any tree he ebber see in he 
life." 

" Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon 
be too dark to see what we are about." 

" How far mus go up, massa? " inquired Jupiter. 

" Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you 
which way to go — and here — stop ! take this beetle with 
you." 

" De bug, Massa Will ! — de goole-bug ! " cried the 
negro, drawing back in dismay — " what for mus tote de 
bug way up de tree? — d — n if I do ! " 

" If you are afraid, J up, a great big negro like you, to 
take hold of a harmless little dead beetle, why you can 
carry it up by this string — but, if you do not take it up 
with you in some way, I shall be under the necessity of 
breaking your head with this shovel." 



94 THE GOLD-BUG. 

"What de matter now massa?" said Jup, evidently 
shamed into compliance ; " always want for to raise fuss 
wid old nigger. Was only funnin anyhow. Me feered 
de bug! what I keer for de bug?" Here he took cau- 
tiously hold of the extreme end of the string, and, main- 
taining the insect as far from his person as circumstances 
would permit, prepared to ascend the tree. 

In youth, the tulip-tree, or Liriodendron Tulipiferum, 
the most magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk 
peculiarly smooth, and often rises to a great height with- 
out lateral branches ; but, in its riper age, the bark be- 
comes gnarled and uneven, while many short limbs make 
their appearance on the stem. Thus the difficulty of as- 
cension, in the present case, lay more in semblance than 
in reality. Embracing the huge cylinder, as closely as 
possible, with his arms and knees, seizing with his hands 
some projections, and resting his naked toes upon others, 
Jupiter, after one or two narrow escapes from falling, at 
length wriggled himself into the first great fork, and 
seemed to consider the whole business as virtually accom- 
plished. The risk of the achievement was, in fact, now 
over, although the climber was some sixty or seventy feet 
from the ground. 

" Which way mus go now, Massa Will ? " he asked. 

" Keep up the largest branch — the one on this side/' 
said Legrand. The negro obeyed him promptly, and 
apparently with but little trouble ; ascending higher and 
higher, until no glimpse of his squat figure could be ob- 



THE GOLD-BUG. 95 

tained through the dense foliage which enveloped it. 
Presently his voice was heard in a sort of halloo. 

" How much fudder is got for go ? " 

" How high up are you ? " asked Legrand. 

" Ebber so fur," replied the negro ; " can see de sky fru 
de top.ob de tree." 

" Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say. Look 
down the trunk and count the limbs below you on this 
side. How many limbs have you passed ? " 

" One, two, tree, four, fibe — I done pass fibe big limb, 
massa, pon dis side," 

" Then go one limb higher." 

In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing 
that the seventh limb was attained. 

" Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, 
" I want you to work your way out upon that limb as far 
as you can. If you see any thing strange let me know." 

By this time what little doubt I might have entertained 
of my poor friend's insanity was put finally at rest. I had 
no alternative but to conclude him stricken with lunacy, 
and I became seriously anxious about getting him home. 
While I was pondering upon what was best to be done, 
Jupiter's voice was again heard. 

" Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far — 't is 
dead limb putty much all de way." 

"Did you say it was a dead limb, Jupiter ?" cried Le- 
grand in a quavering voice. 

" Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail — done up for 
sartin — done departed dis here life." 



g6 THE GOLD-BUG. 

" What in the name of heaven shall I do?" asked Le- 
grand, seemingly in the greatest distress. 

" Do ! " said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a 
word, " why come home and go to bed. Come now ! — 
that 's a fine fellow. It 's getting late, and, besides, you 
remember your promise." 

" Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, 
" do you hear me ? " 

" Yes, Massa Will, hear you ebber so plain." 

" Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if 
you think it very rotten." 

" Him rotten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a 
few moments, " but not so berry rotten as mought be. 
Mough venture out leetle way pon de limb by myself, 
dat 's true." 

" By yourself ! — what do you mean ? " 

■ - Why, I mean de bug. 'T is berry hebby bug. Spose 
I drop him down fuss, and den de limb won't break wid 
just de weight ob one nigger." 

"You infernal scoundrel ! " cried Legrand, apparently 
much relieved, " what do you mean by telling me such 
nonsense as that ? As sure as you drop that beetle I '11 
break your neck. Look here, Jupiter, do you hear me ? 1 

" Yes, massa, need n't hollo at poor nigger dat style." 

" Well ! now listen ! — if you will venture out on the 
limb as far as you think safe, and not let go the beetle, 
I '11 make you a present of a silver dollar as soon as you 
get down." 



THE GOLD-BUG. gy 

" I'm gwine, Massa Will — deed I is," replied the negro 
very promptly — " mos out to the eend now." 

" Out to the end ! " here fairly screamed Legrand ; " do 
you say you are out to the end of that limb ? " 

" Soon be to de eend, massa — o-o-o-o-oh ! Lor-gol-a- 
marcy ! what is dis here pon de tree ?" 

" Well ! " cried Legrand, highly delighted, " what is 
it?" 

u Why taint noffin but a skull — somebody bin lef him 
head up de tree, and de crows done gobble ebery bit ob 
de meat off." 

" A skull, you say ! — very well, — how is it fastened to 
the limb? — what holds it on ? " 

" Sure nuff, massa ; mus look. Why dis berry curous 
sarcumstance, pon my word — dare 's a great big nail in de 
skull, what fastens ob it on to de tree." 

" Well now, Jupiter, do exactly as I tell you — do you 
hear?" 

" Yes, massa." 

"Pay attention, then — find the left eye of the skull." 

" Hum ! hoo ! dat 's good ! why dey ain't no eye lef at 
all." 

" Curse your stupidity ! do you know your right hand 
from your left ? " 

" Yes, I knows dat — knows all bout dat — 't is my lef 
hand what I chops de wood wid." 

" To be sure ! you are left-handed ; and your left eye is 
on the same side as your left hand. Now, I suppose, you 



9^ THE GOLD-BUG. 

can find the left eye of the skull, or the place where the 
left eye has been. Have you found it ? " 

Here was a long pause. At length the negro asked. 

" Is de lef eye of de skull pon de same side as de lef 
hand of de skull too? — cause de skull aint got not a bit 
ob a hand at all — nebber mind ! I got de lef eye now — 
here de lef eye ! what mus do wid it ?" 

" Let the beetle drop through it, as far as the string 
will reach — but be careful and not let go your hold of the 
string." 

" All dat done, Massa Will ; mighty easy ting for to put 
de bug fru de hole — look out for him dare below ! " 

During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person 
could be seen ; but the beetle, which he had suffered t< 
descend, was now visible at the end of the string, an< 
glistened, like a globe of burnished gold, in the last rays 
of the setting sun, some of which still faintly illumine< 
the eminence upon which we stood. The scaraboeus hunj 
quite clear of any branches, and, if allowed to fall, wouh 
have fallen at our feet. Legrand immediately took th< 
scythe, and cleared with it a circular space, three or foui 
yards in diameter, just beneath the insect, and, having 
accomplished this, ordered Jupiter to let go the string an< 
come down from the tree. 

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at 
the precise spot where the beetle fell, my friend now pn 
duced from his pocket a tape-measure. Fastening one 
end of this at that point of the trunk of the tree whicl 



THE GOLD-BUG. 99 

was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it reached the peg 
and thence further unrolled it, in the direction already 
established by the two points of the tree and the peg, for 
the distance of fifty feet — Jupiter clearing away the 
brambles with the scythe. At the spot thus attained a 
second peg was driven, and about this, as a centre, a rude 
circle, about four feet in diameter, described. Taking 
now a spade himself, and giving one to Jupiter and one 
to me, Legrand begged us to set about digging as quickly 
as possible. 

To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such 
amusement at any time, and, at that particular moment, 
would most willingly have declined it ; for the night was 
coming on, and I felt much fatigued with the exercise 
already taken ; but I saw no mode of escape, and was 
fearful of disturbing my poor friend's equanimity by a 
refusal. Could I have depended, indeed upon Jupiter's 
aid, I would have had no hesitation in attempting to get 
the lunatic home by force ; but I was too well assured of 
the old negro's disposition, to hope that he would assist 
me, under any circumstances, in a personal contest with 
his master. I made no doubt that the latter had been in- 
fected with some of the innumerable Southern supersti- 
tions about money buried, and that his phantasy had re- 
ceived confirmation by the finding of the scarabceus, or, 
perhaps, by Jupiter's obstinacy in maintaining it to be 
" a bug of real gold." A mind disposed to lunacy would 
readily be led away by such suggestions — especially if 



IOO THE GOLD-BUG. 

chiming in with favorite preconceived ideas — and then I 
called to mind the poor fellow's speech about the beetle's 
being " the index of his fortune." Upon the whole, I was 
sadly vexed and puzzled, but, at length, I concluded to 
make a virtue of necessity — to dig with a good will, and 
thus the sooner to convince the visionary, by ocular 
demonstration, of the fallacy of the opinions he enter- 
tained. 

The lanterns having been lit, we all fell to work with a 
zeal worthy a more rational cause ; and, as the glare fell 
upon our persons and implements, I could not help think- 
ing how picturesque a group we composed, and how 
strange and suspicious our labors must have appeared to 
any interloper who, by chance, might have stumbled upon 
our whereabouts. 

We dug very steadily for two hours. Little was said ; 
and our chief embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the 
dog, who took exceeding interest in our proceedings. 
He, at length, became so obstreperous that we grew fear- 
ful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in the 
vicinity, — or, rather, this was the apprehension of Le- 
grand ; — for myself, I should have rejoiced at any inter- 
ruption which might have enabled me to get the wan- 
derer home. The noise was, at length, very effectually 
silenced by Jupiter, who, getting out of the hole with a 
dogged air of deliberation, tied the brute's mouth up with 
one of his suspenders, and then returned, with a grave 
chuckle, to his task. 



THE GOLD-BUG. 10 1 

When the time mentioned had expired, we had reached 
a depth of five feet, and yet no signs of any treasure be- 
came manifest. A general pause ensued, and I began to 
hope that the farce was at an end. Legrand, however, 
although evidently much disconcerted, wiped his brow 
thoughtfully and recommenced. We had excavated the 
entire circle of four feet diameter, and now we slightly 
enlarged the limit, and went to the farther depth of two 
feet. Still nothing appeared. The gold-seeker, whom I 
sincerely pitied, at length clambered from the pit, with the 
bitterest disappointment imprinted upon every feature, 
and proceeded, slowly and reluctantly, to put on his coat, 
which he had thrown off at the beginning of his labor. 
In the meantime I made no remark. Jupiter, at a signal 
from his master, began to gather up his tools. This done, 
and the dog having been unmuzzled, we turned in pro- 
found silence toward home. 

We had taken, perhaps, a dozen steps in this direction, 
when, with a loud oath, Legrand strode up to Jupiter, and 
seized him by the collar. The astonished negro opened 
his eyes and mouth to the fullest extent, let fall the spades, 
and fell upon his knees. 

"You scoundrel ! " said Legrand, hissing out the sylla- 
bles from between his clenched teeth — " you infernal 
black villain ! — speak, I tell you ! — answer me this in- 
stant, without prevarication ! — which — which is your left 
eye?" 

" Oh, my golly, Massa Will ! aint dis here my lef eye 



102 THE GOLD-BUG. 

for sartain?" roared the terrified Jupiter, placing his hand 
upon his right organ of vision, and holding it there with 
a desperate pertinacity, as if in immediate dread of his 
master's attempt at a gouge. 

" I thought so ! — I knew it ! hurrah ! " vociferated Le- 
grand, letting the negro go and executing a series of 
curvets and caracols, much to the astonishment of his 
valet, who, arising from his knees, looked, mutely, from 
his master to myself, and then from myself to his master. 

" Come ! we must go back," said the latter, " the game 's 
not up yet " ; and he again led the way to the tulip- 
tree. 

" Jupiter," said he, when we reached its foot, " come 
here ! was the skull nailed to the limb with the face out- 
ward, or with the face to the limb ? " 

" De face was out, massa, so dat de crows could get at 
de eyes good, widout any trouble." 

" Well, then, was it this eye or that through which you 
dropped the beetle ? " — here Legrand touched each of 
Jupiter's eyes. 

"'T was dis eye, massa — de lef eye — jis as you tell me," 
and here it was his right eye that the negro indicated. 

" That will do — we must try it again." 

Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or 
fancied that I saw, certain indications of method, removed 
the peg which marked the spot where the beetle fell, to a 
spot about three inches to the westward of its former posi- 
tion. Taking, now, the tape measure from the nearest point 






THE GOLD-BUG. IO3 

of the trunk to the peg, as before, and continuing the exten- 
sion in a straight line to the distance of fifty feet, a spot 
was indicated, removed, by several yards, from the point 
at which we had been digging. 

Around the new position a circle, somewhat larger than 
in the former instance, was now described, and we again 
set to work with the spade. I was dreadfully weary, but, 
scarcely understanding what had occasioned the change in 
my thoughts, I felt no longer any great aversion from the 
labor imposed. I had become most unaccountably inter- 
ested — nay, even excited. Perhaps there was something, 
amid all the extravagant demeanor of Legrand — some air 
of forethought, or of deliberation, which impressed me. I 
dug eagerly, and now and then caught myself actually look- 
ing, with something that very much resembled expectation, 
for the fancied treasure, the vision of which had demented 
my unfortunate companion. At a period when such va- 
garies of thought most fully possessed me, and when we 
had been at work perhaps an hour and a half, we were 
again interrupted by the violent howlings of the dog. His 
uneasiness, in the first instance, had been, evidently, but 
the result of playfulness or caprice, but he now assumed a 
bitter and serious tone. Upon Jupiter's again attempting 
to muzzle him, he made furious resistance, and, leaping into 
the hole, tore up the mould frantically with his claws. In 
a few seconds he had uncovered a mass of human bones, 
forming two complete skeletons, intermingled with several 
buttons of metal, and what appeared to be the dust of 



104 THE GOLD-BUG. 

decayed woollen. One or two strokes of a spade up- 
turned the blade of a large Spanish knife, and, as we dug 
farther, three or four loose pieces of gold and silver coin 
came to light. 

At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be 
restrained, but the countenance of his master wore an air 
of extreme disappointment. He urged us, however, to 
continue our exertions, and the words were hardly uttered 
when I stumbled and fell forward, having caught the toe 
of my boot in a large ring of iron that lay half buried in 
the loose earth. 

We now worked in earnest, and never did I pass ten 
minutes of more intense excitement. During this inter- 
val we had fairly unearthed an oblong chest of wood, 
which, from its perfect preservation and wonderful hard- 
ness, had plainly been subjected to some mineralizing 
process — perhaps that of the bi-chloride of mercury. 
This box was three feet and a half long, three feet broad, 
and two and a half feet deep. It was firmly secured by 
bands of wrought ironj riveted, and forming a kind of 
open trellis-work over the whole. On each side of the 
chest, near the the top, were three rings of iron — six in all 
— by means of which a firm hold could be obtained by six 
persons. Our utmost united endeavors served only to 
disturb the coffer very slightly in its bed. We at once 
saw the impossibility of removing so great a weight. 
Luckily, the sole fastenings of the lid consisted of two 
sliding bolts. These we drew back — trembling and pant- 






THE GOLD-BUG. 1 05 

ing with anxiety. In an instant, a treasure of incalculable 
value lay gleaming before us. As the rays of the lanterns 
fell within the pit, there flashed upward a glow and a glare, 
from a confused heap of gold and of jewels, that absolutely 
dazzled our eyes. 

I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which I 
gazed. Amazement was, of course, predominant. Le- 
grand appeared exhausted with excitement, and spoke 
very few words. Jupiter's countenance wore, for some 
minutes, as deadly a pallor as it is possible, in the nature 
of things, for any negro's visage to assume. He seemed 
stupefied — thunderstricken. Presently he fell upon his 
knees in the pit, and burying his naked arms up to the el- 
bows in gold, let them there remain, as if enjoying the 
luxury of a bath. At length, with a deep sigh, he ex- 
claimed, as if in a soliloquy : 

" And dis all cum ob de goole-bug ! de putty goole- 
bug ! de poor little goole-bug, what I boosed in dat sabage 
kind ob style ! Aint you shamed ob yourself, nigger? — 
answer me dat ! " 

It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both 
master and valet to the expediency of removing the 
treasure. It was growing late, and it behooved us to 
make exertion, that we might get every thing housed 
before daylight. It was difficult to say what should be 
done, and much time was spent in deliberation — so con- 
fused were the ideas of all. We, finally, lightened the box 
by removing two thirds of its contents, when we were 



106 THE GOLD-BUG. 

enabled, with some trouble, to raise it from the hole. 
The articles taken out were deposited among the brambles, 
and the dog left to guard them, with strict orders from 
Jupiter neither, upon any pretence, to stir from the spot, , 
nor to open his mouth until our return. We then hur- 
riedly made for home with the chest ; reaching the hut in 
safety, but after excessive toil, at one o'clock in the morn- 
ing. Worn out as we were, it was not in human nature 
to do more immediately. We rested until two, and had 
supper ; starting for the hills immediately afterward, 
armed with three stout sacks, which, by good luck, were 
upon the premises. A little before four we arrived at the 
pit, divided the remainder of the booty, as equally as 
might be, among us, and, leaving the holes unfilled, again 
set out for the hut, at which, for the second time, we de- 
posited our golden burthens, just as the first faint streaks 
of the dawn gleamed from over the tree-tops in the East. 

We were now thoroughly broken down ; but the intense 
excitement of the time denied us repose. After an un- 
quiet slumber of some three or four hours' duration, we 
arose, as if by preconcert, to make examination of our 
treasure. 

The chest had been full to the brim, and we spent the 
whole day, and the greater part of the next night, in a 
scrutiny of its contents. There had been nothing like 
order or arrangement. Every thing had been heaped in 
promiscuously. Having assorted all with care, we found 
ourselves possessed of even vaster wealth than we had at 



THE GOLD-BUG. toy 

first supposed. In coin there was rather more than four 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars — estimating the value 
of the pieces, as accurately as we could, by the tables of 
the period. There was not a particle of silver. All was 
gold of antique date and of great variety — French, Span- 
ish, and German money, with a few English guineas, and 
some counters, of which we had never seen specimens 
before. There were several very large and heavy coins, 
so worn that we could make nothing of their inscriptions. 
There was no American money. The value of the jewels 
we found more difficulty in estimating. There were 
diamonds — some of them exceedingly large and fine — a 
hundred and ten in all, and not one of them small ; eigh- 
teen rubies of remarkable brilliancy ; — three hundred and 
ten emeralds, all very beautiful ; and twenty-one sapphires, 
with an opal. These stones had all been broken from 
their settings and thrown loose in the chest. The settings 
themselves, which we picked out from among the other 
gold, appeared to have been beaten up with hammers, as 
if to prevent identification. Besides all tlfcis, there was a 
vast quantity of solid gold ornaments : nearly two hun- 
dred massive finger- and ear-rings ; rich chains — thirty 
of these, if I remember; eighty-three very large and 
heavy crucifixes ; five gold censers of great value ; a 
prodigious golden punch-bowl, ornamented with richly 
chased vine-leaves and Bacchanalian figures ; with two 
sword-handles exquisitely embossed, and many other 
smaller articles which I cannot recollect. The weight of 






108 THE GOLD-BUG. 

these valuables exceeded three hundred and fifty pounds 
avoirdupois ; and in this estimate I have not included one 
hundred and ninety-seven superb gold watches ; three of 
the number being worth each five hundred dollars, if one. 
Many of them were very old, and as timekeepers value- 
less ; the works having suffered, more or less, from cor- 
rosion — but all were richly jewelled and in cases of great 
worth. We estimated the entire contents of the chest, 
that night, at a million and a half of dollars ; and upon 
the subsequent disposal of the trinkets and jewels (a few 
being retained for our own use), it was found that we had 
greatly undervalued the treasure. 

When, at length, we had concluded our examination, 
and the intense excitement of the time had, in some 
measure, subsided, Legrand, who saw that I was dying 
with impatience for a solution of this most extraordinary 
riddle, entered into a full detail of all the circumstances 
connected with it. 

" You remember," said he, " the night when I handed 
you the rough»sketch I had made of the scarabceus. You 
recollect also, that I became quite vexed at you for in- 
sisting that my drawing resembled a death's-head. When 
you first made this assertion I thought you were jesting 
but afterward I called to mind the peculiar spots on th( 
back of the insect, and admitted to myself that your re- 
mark had some little foundation in fact. Still, the sneei 
at my graphic powers irritated me — for I am considerec 
a good artist — and, therefore, when you handed me the 



THE GOLD-BUG. IO9 

scrap of parchment, I was about to crumple it up and 
throw it angrily into the fire." 

" The scrap of paper, you mean," said I. 

" No ; it had much of the appearance of paper, and at 
first I supposed it to be such, but when I came to draw 
upon it, I discovered it at once to be a piece of very thin 
parchment. It was quite dirty, you remember. Well, as 
I was in the very act of crumpling it up, my glance fell 
upon the sketch at which you had been looking, and you 
may imagine my astonishment when I perceived, in fact, 
the figure of a death's-head just where, it seemed to me, 
I had made the drawing of the beetle. For a moment I 
was too much amazed to think with accuracy. I knew 
that my design was very different in detail from this — al- 
though there was a certain similarity in general outline. 
Presently I took a candle, and seating myself at the other 
end of the room, proceeded to scrutinize the parchment 
more closely. Upon turning it over, I saw my own sketch 
upon the reverse, just as I had made it. My first idea, 
now, was mere surprise at the really remarkable similarity 
of outline — at the singular coincidence involved in the 
fact that, unknown to me, there should have been a skull 
f upon the other side of the parchment, immediately be- 
neath my figure of the scarabcsus, and that this skull, not 
only in outline, but in size, should so closely resemble 
my drawing. I say the singularity of this coincidence ab- 
solutely stupefied me for a time. This is the usual effect 
of such coincidences. The mind struggles to establish a 



IIO THE GOLD-BUG. 

connection — a sequence of cause and effect — and, being 
unable to do so, suffers a species of temporary paralysis. 
But, when I recovered from this stupor, there dawned 
upon me gradually a conviction which startled me even 
far more than the coincidence. I began distinctly, posi- 
tively, to remember that there had been no drawing upon 
the parchment when I made my sketch of the scarabczus. 
I became perfectly certain of this ; for I recollected turn- 
ing up first one side and then the other, in search of the 
cleanest spot. Had the skull been then there, of course 
I could not have failed to notice it. Here was indeed a 
mystery which I felt it impossible to explain ; but, even 
at that early moment, there seemed to glimmer, faintly, 
within the most remote and secret chambers of my intel- 
lect, a glow-worm-like conception of that truth which last 
night's adventure brought to so magnificent a demonstra- 
tion. I arose at once, and putting the parchment se- 
curely away, dismissed all further reflection until I should 
be alone. 

" When you had gone, and when Jupiter was fast 
asleep, I betook myself to a more methodical investiga- 
tion of the affair. In the first place I considered the 
manner in which the parchment had come into my pos- 
session. The spot where we discovered the scarabczus 
was on the coast of the main-land, about a mile eastward 
of the island, and but a short distance above high-water 
mark. Upon my taking hold of it, it gave me a sharp 
bite, which caused me to let it drop. Jupiter, with his 






THE GOLD-BUG. Ill 

accustomed caution, before seizing the insect, which had 
flown toward him, looked about him for a leaf, or some- 
thing of that nature, by which to take hold of it. It was 
at this moment that his eyes, and mine also, fell upon the 
scrap of parchment, which I then supposed to be paper. 
It was lying half buried in the sand, a corner sticking up. 
Near the spot where we found it, I observed the rem- 
nants of the hull of what appeared to have been a ship's 
long-boat. The wreck seemed to have been there for a 
very great while ; for the resemblance to boat timbers 
could scarcely be traced. 

" Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the 
beetle in it, and gave it to me. Soon afterward we turned 

to go home, and on the way met Lieutenant G . I 

showed him the insect, and he begged me to let him take 
it to the fort. Upon my consenting, he thrust it forth- 
with into his waistcoat pocket, without the parchment in 
which it had been wrapped, and which I had continued to 
hold in my hand during his inspection. Perhaps he 
dreaded my changing my mind, and thought it best to 
make sure of the prize at once — you know how enthusi- 
astic he is on all subjects connected with Natural History. 
At the same time, without being conscious of it, I must 
have deposited the parchment in my own pocket. 

" You remember that when I went to the table, for the 
purpose of making a sketch of the beetle, I found no 
paper where it was usually kept. I looked in the drawer, 
and found none there. I searched my pockets, hoping to 



112 THE GOLD-BUG. 

find an old letter, when my hand fell upon the parchment. 
I thus detail the precise mode in which it came into my 
possession; for the circumstances impressed me with 
peculiar force. 

" No doubt you will think me fanciful — but I had 
already established a kind of connection. I had put to- 
gether two links of a great chain. There was a boat lying 
upon a sea-coast, and not far from the boat was a parch- 
ment — not a paper — with a skull depicted upon it. You 
will, of course, ask ' where is the connection ? ' I reply 
that the skull, or death's-head, is the well-known emblem 
of the pirate. The flag of the death's-head is hoisted in 
all engagements. 

" I have said that the scrap was parchment, and not 
paper. Parchment is durable — almost imperishable. 
Matters of little moment are rarely consigned to parch- 
ment ; since, for the mere ordinary purposes of drawing 
or writing, it is not nearly so well adapted as paper. This 
reflection suggested some meaning — some relevancy — in 
the death's-head. I did not fail to observe, also, the form 
of the parchment. Although one of its corners had been, 
by some accident, destroyed, it could be seen that the 
original form was oblong. It was just such a slip, indeed, 
as might have been chosen for a memorandum — for a 
record of something to be long remembered and carefully 
preserved." 

" But," I interposed, " you say that the skull was noi 
upon the parchment when you made the drawing of the 



THE GOLD-BUG. 113 

beetle. How then do you trace any connection between 
the boat and the skull — since this latter, according to 
your own admission, must have been designed (God only 
knows how or by whom) at some period subsequent to 
your sketching the scarabceus ? " 

" Ah, hereupon turns the whole mystery ; although the 
secret, at this point, I had comparatively little difficulty 
in solving. My steps were sure, and could afford but a 
single result. I reasoned, for example, thus: When I 
drew the scarabceus, there was no skull apparent upon the 
parchment. When I had completed the drawing I gave 
it to you, and observed you narrowly until you returned 
it. You, therefore, did not design the skull, and no one 
else was present to do it. Then it was not done by 
human agency. And nevertheless it was done. 

"At this stage of my reflections I endeavored to 
remember, and did remember, with entire distinctness, 
every incident which occurred about the period in ques- 
tion. The weather was chilly (oh, rare and happy acci- 
dent !), and a fire was blazing upon the hearth. I was 
heated with exercise and sat near the table. You, how- 
ever, had drawn a chair close to the chimney. Just as I 
placed the parchment in your hand, and as you were in 
the act of inspecting it, Wolf, the Newfoundland, entered, 
and leaped upon your shoulders. With your left hand 
you caressed him and kept him off, while your right, 
holding the parchment, was permitted to fall listlessly 
between your knees, and in close proximity to the fire. 



114 THE GOLD-BUG. 

At one moment I thought the blaze had caught it, and 
was about to caution you, but, before I could speak, you 
had withdrawn it, and were engaged in its examination. 
When I considered all these particulars, I doubted not 
for a moment that heat had been the agent in bringing to 
light, upon the parchment, the skull which I saw designed 
upon it. You are well aware that chemical preparations 
exist, and have existed time out of mind, by means of 
which it is possible to write upon either paper or vellum, 
so that the characters shall become visible only when 
subjected to the action of fire. Zaffre, digested in aqua 
regia, and diluted with four times its weight of water, is 
sometimes employed ; a green tint results. The regulus 
of cobalt, dissolved in spirit of nitre, gives a red. These 
colors disappear at longer or shorter intervals after the 
material written upon cools, but again become apparent 
upon the re-application of heat. 

" I .now scrutinized the death's-head with care. Its 
outer edges — the edges of the drawing nearest the edge 
of the vellum — were far more distinct than the others. It 
was clear that the action of the caloric had been imperfect 
or unequal. I immediately kindled a fire, and subjected 
every portion of the parchment to a glowing heat. At 
first, the only effect was the strengthening of the faint lines 
in the skull; but, upon persevering in the experiment, 
there became visible, at the corner of the slip, diagonal!; 
opposite to the spot in which the death's-head was 
delineated, the figure of what I at first supposed to be 



THE GOLD-BUG. 11$ 

goat. A closer scrutiny, however, satisfied me that it was 
intended for a kid." 

" Ha ! ha ! " said I, " to be sure I have no right to 
laugh at you — a million and a half of money is too serious 
a matter for mirth — but you are not about to establish a 
third link in your chain — you will not find any especial con- 
nection between your pirates and a goat — pirates, you 
know, have nothing to do with goats ; they appertain to 
the farming interest." 

" But I have just said that the figure was not that of a 
goat." 

" Well, a kid then — pretty much the same thing." 

" Pretty much, but not altogether," said Legrand. 
" You may have heard of one Captain Kidd. I at once 
looked upon the figure of the animal as a kind of punning 
or hieroglyphical signature. I say signature ; because its 
position upon the vellum suggested this idea. The 
death's-head at the cdtner diagonally opposite, had, in 
the same manner, the air of a stamp, or seal. But I was 
sorely put out by the absence of all else — of the body to 
my imagined instrument — of the text for my context." 

" I presume you expected to find a letter between the 
stamp and the signature." 

" Something of that kind. The fact is, I felt irresistibly 
impressed with a presentiment of some vast good fortune 
impending. I can scarcely say why. Perhaps, after all, 
it was rather a desire than an actual belief ; — but do you 
know that Jupiter's silly words, about the bug being of 



Il6 THE GOLD-BUG. 

solid gold, had a remarkable effect upon my fancy ? And 
then the series of accidents and coincidences — these were so 
very extraordinary. Do you observe how mere an acci- 
dent it was that these events should have occurred upon 
the sole day of all the year in which it has been, or may be 
sufficiently cool for fire, and that without the fire, or with- 
out the intervention of the dog at the precise moment in 
which he appeared, I should never have become aware 
of the death's-head, and so never the possessor of the 
treasure." 

" But proceed — I am all impatience." 

" Well ; you have heard, of course, the many stories 
current — the thousand vague rumors afloat about money 
buried, somewhere upon the Atlantic coast, by Kidd and 
his associates. These rumors must have had some foun- 
dation in fact. And that the rumors have existed so long 
and so continuous, could have resulted, it appeared to me, 
only from the circumstance of the buried treasure still re- 
maining entombed. Had Kidd concealed his plunder for 
a time, and afterward reclaimed it, the rumors would 
scarcely have reached us in their present unvarying form. 
You will observe that the stories told are all about money- 
seekers, not about money-finders. Had the pirate re- 
covered his money, there the affair would have dropped. 
It seemed to me that some accident — say the loss of a 
memorandum indicating its locality — had deprived him of 
the means of recovering it, and that this accident had be- 
come known to his followers, who otherwise might never 



THE GOLD-BUG. \\J 

have heard that treasure had been concealed at all, and 
who, busying themselves in vain, because unguided, at- 
tempts to regain it, had given first birth, and then uni- 
versal currency, to the reports which are now so common. 
Have you ever heard of any important treasure being 
unearthed along the coast?" 

" Never." 

" But that Kidd's accumulations were immense, is well 
known. I took it for granted, therefore, that the earth 
still held them ; and you will scarcely be surprised when I 
tell you that I felt a hope, nearly amounting to certainty, 
that the parchment so strangely found involved a lost 
record of the place of deposit." 

" But how did you proceed ?" 

" I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing 
the heat, but nothing appeared. I now thought it pos- 
sible that the coating of dirt might have something to do 
with the failure : so I carefully rinsed the parchment by 
pouring warm water over it, and, having done this, I 
placed it in a tin pan, with the skull downward, and put 
the pan upon a furnace of lighted charcoal. In a few 
minutes, the pan having become thoroughly heated, I re- 
moved the slip, and, to my inexpressible joy, found it 
spotted, in several places, with what appeared to be 
figures arranged in lines. Again I placed it in the pan, 
and suffered it to remain another minute. Upon taking 
it off, the whole was just as you see it now." 

Here Legrand, having re-heated the parchment, sub- 



Il8 THE GOLD-BUG. 

mitted it to my inspection. The following characters 
were rudely traced, in a red tint, between the death's-head 
and the goat : 

<< 53«t305))6*;4826)4t)4);8o6*; 4 8t81-6o))85;it(;:t*8t83(88) 
5*t;46(;88* 9 6*?;8)*t(;485);S*t2:*t(;4956*2(s*— 4 )8f 8*540692 
85);)6t8)4tt;ia9;48o8i;8:8ti;48t8s;4)485t5288o6*8i(t9; 4 8;(8 
8; 4 a?34;48)4t;i6i;:i88;t?;" 

" But," said I, returning him the slip, " I am as much in 
the dark as ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda await- 
ing me upon my solution of this enigma, I am quite sure 
that I should be unable to earn them." 

" And yet," said Legrand, " the solution is by no means 
so difficult as you might be led to imagine from the first 
hasty inspection of the characters. These characters, as 
any one might readily guess, form a cipher — that is to say, 
they convey a meaning ; but then from what is known of 
Kidd, I could not suppose him capable of constructing 
any of the more abstruse cryptographs. I made up my 
mind, at once, that this was of a simple species — such, 
however, as would appear, to the crude intellect of the 
sailor, absolutely insoluble without the key." 

" And you really solved it ? " 

" Readily ; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten 
thousand times greater. Circumstances, and a certain 
bias of mind, have led me to take interest in such riddles, 
and it may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can 
construct an enigma of the kind which human ingenuity 



THE GOLD-BUG. II9 

may not, by proper application, resolve. In fact, having 
once established connected and legible characters, I 
scarcely gave a thought to the mere difficulty of develop- 
ing their import. 

" In the present case — indeed in all cases of secret 
writing — the first question regards the language of the 
cipher ; for the principles of solution, so far, especially, as 
the more simple ciphers are concerned, depend upon, and 
are varied by, the genius of the particular idiom. In gen- 
eral, there is no alternative but experiment (directed by 
probabilities) of every tongue known to him who attempts 
the solution, until the true one be attained. But, with 
the cipher now before us all difficulty was removed by 
the signature. The pun upon the word ' Kidd ' is appre- 
ciable in no other language than the English. But for 
this consideration I should have begun my attempts with 
the Spanish and French, as the tongues in which a secret 
of this kind would most naturally have been written^ by a 
pirate of the Spanish main. As it was, I assumed the 
cryptograph to be English. 

" You observe there are no divisions between the words. 
Had there been divisions the task would have been com- 
paratively easy. In such cases I should have commenced 
with a collation and analysis of the shorter words, and, had 
a word of a single letter occurred, as is most likely, {a or /, 
for example,) I should have considered the solution as as- 
sured. But, there being no division, my first step was to 
ascertain the predominant letters, as well as the least 
frequent. Counting all, I constructed a table thus : 



120 THE GOLD-BUG. 



Of the character 8 there 


are 33. 


» 


" 


26. 


4 


M 


19. 


*) 


ii 


16. 


* 


ii 


13. 


5 


it 


12. 


6 


" 


11. 


fl 


" 


8. 


o 


< < 


6. 


92 


44 


5. 


: 3 


ii 


4- 


? 


ii 


3- 


1 


" 


2. 


— . 


" 


1. 



" Now, in English, the letter which most frequently occurs 
is e. Afterward, the succession runs thus : aoidhnrst 
u y c f g Imwbkpqxz. E predominates so remark- 
ably, that an individual sentence of any length is rarely 
seen, in which it is not the prevailing character. 

" Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the 
groundwork for something more than a mere guess. The 
general use which may be made of the table is obvious — 
but, in this particular cipher, we shall only very partially 
require its aid. As our predominant character is 8, we 
will commence by assuming it as the e of the natural 
alphabet. To verify the supposition, let us observe if 
the 8 be seen often in couples — for e is doubled with 
great frequency in English — in such words, for example, 
as ' meet,' ' fleet,' ' speed,' ' seen,' ' been,' ' agree,' etc. In 
the present instance we see it doubled no less than five 
times, although the cryptograph is brief. 

" Let us assume 8, then, as e. Now, of all words in 



THE GOLD-BUG. 121 

the language, ' the ' is most usual ; let us see, therefore, 

whether there are not repetitions of any three characters, 

in the same order of collocation, the last of them being 8. 

If we discover repetitions of such letters, so arranged, 

they will most probably represent the word ' the.' Upon 

inspection, we find no less than seven such arrangements, 

the characters being 548. We may, therefore, assume 

that ; represents /, 4 represents k, and 8 represents e — 

the last being now well confirmed. Thus a great step 

has been taken. 

" But, having established a single word, we are enabled 

to establish a vastly important point; that is to say, 

several commencements and terminations of other words. 

Let us refer, for example, to the last instance but one, in 

which the combination 148 occurs — not far from the end 

of the cipher. We know that the ; immediately ensuing 

is the commencement of a word, and, of the six characters 

succeeding this 'the/ we are cognizant of no less than 

five. Let us set these characters down, thus, by the 

letters we know them to represent, leaving a space for 

the unknown — 

t eeth. 

" Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the ' tkj as 

forming no portion of the word commencing with the 

first // since, by experiment of the entire alphabet for a 

letter adapted to the vacancy, we perceive that no word 

can be formed of which this th can be a part. We are 

thus narrowed into 

t ee, 



122 THE GOLD-BUG. 

and, going- through the alphabet, if necessary, as before, 
we arrive at the word ' tree,' as the sole possible reading. 
We thus gain another letter, r, represented by (, with the 
words ' the tree ' in juxtaposition. 

" Looking beyond these words, for a short distance, we 
again see the combination 548, and employ it by way of 
termination to what immediately precedes. We have 
thus this arrangement : 

the tree ;4(P34 the, 

or, substituting the natural letters, where known, it reads 
thus: 

the tree thr^h the. 

" Now, if, in place of the unknown characters, we leave 
blank spaces, or substitute dots, we read thus : 
the tree thr...h the, 

when the word ' through ' makes itself evident at once. 
But this discovery gives us three new letters, o } u, and g, 
represented by \, ?, and 3. 

" Looking now, narrowly, through the cipher for com- 
binations of known characters, we find, not very far from 
the beginning, this arrangement, 

83(88, or egree, 
which, plainly, is the conclusion of the word ' degree,' and 
gives us another letter, d } represented by f . 

" Four letters beyond the word ' degree/ we perceive 
the combination 

;46(;88. 



THE GOLD-BUG. 



123 



" Translating the known characters, and representing 
the unknown by dots, as before, we read thus : 

th.rtee, 
an arrangement immediately suggestive of the word 
* thirteen,' and again furnishing us with two new charac- 
ters, i and n, represented by 6 and *. 

" Referring, now, to the beginning of the cryptograph, 
we find the combination, 

53ttt- 
" Translating as before, we obtain 
.good, 
which assures us that the first letter is A, and that the 
first two words are ' A good.' 

" It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as dis- 
covered, in a tabular form, to avoid confusion. It will 
stand thus : 

5 represents a 

t 

8 

3 
4 
6 
* 

X 

( 



" We have, therefore, no less than eleven of the most 
important letters represented, and it will be unnecessary 
to proceed with the details of the solution. I have said 
enough to convince you that ciphers of this nature are 



124 THE GOLD-BUG. 

readily soluble, and to give you some insight into the 
rationale of their development. But be assured that the 
specimen before us appertains to the very simplest species 
of cryptograph. It now only remains to give you the full 
translation of the characters upon the parchment, as un- 
riddled. Here it is : 

" ' A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the deviV s seat forty-one 
degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branch 
seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head a 
bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.' " 

r /'But," said I, "the enigma seems still in as bad a con- 
dition as ever. How is it possible to extort a meaning 
from all this jargon about * devil's seats,' death's-heads,' 
and 'bishop's hotels?' " 

"I confess," replied Legrand, "that the matter still 
wears a serious aspect, when regarded with a casual 
glance. My first endeavor was to divide the sentence 
into the natural division intended by the cryptographist." 

"You mean, to punctuate it?" 

"Something of that kind." 

" But how was it possible to effect this ? " 

" I reflected that it had been a point with the writer to 
run his words together without division, so as to increase 
the difficulty of solution. Now, a not over-acute man, in 
pursuing such an object, would be nearly certain to overdo 
the matter. When, in the course of his composition, he 
arrived at a break in his subject which would naturally re- 



THE GOLD-BUG. 1 25 

quire a pause, or a point, he would be exceedingly apt to 
run his characters, at this place, more than usually close 
together. If you will observe the MS., in the present in- 
stance, you will easily detect five such cases of unusual 
crowding. Acting upon this hint, I made the division 
thus : 

" l A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat— forty - 
one degrees and thirteen minutes — northeast and by north — main 
branch seventh limb east side — shoot from the left eye of the death's- 
head — a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out* " 

" Even this division," said I, " leaves me still in the 
dark." 

" It left me also in the dark," replied Legrand, " for a 
few days; during which I made diligent inquiry, in the 
neighborhood of Sullivan's Island, for any building which 
went by the name of the ' Bishop's Hotel ' ; for, of course, 
I dropped the obsolete word ' hostel.' Gaining no infor- 
mation on the subject, I was on the point of extending 
my sphere of search, and proceeding in a more systematic 
manner, when, one morning, it entered into my head, 
quite suddenly, that this ' Bishop's Hostel ' might have 
some reference to an old family, of the name of Bessop, 
which, time out of mind, had held possession of an ancient 
manor-house, about four miles to the northward of the 
island. I accordingly went over to the plantation, and 
re-instituted my inquiries among the older negroes of the 
place. At length one of the most aged of the women 
said that she had heard of such a place as Bessop' s Castle -, 



126 THE GOLD-BUG. 

and thought that she could guide me to it, but that it was 
not a castle, nor a tavern, but a high rock. 

" I offered to pay her well for her trouble, and, after 
some demur, she consented to accompany me to the spot. 
We found it without much difficulty, when, dismissing her, 
I proceeded to examine the place. The ' castle ' consisted 
of an irregular assemblage of cliffs and rocks — one of the 
latter being quite remarkable for its height as well as for 
its insulated and artificial appearance. I clambered to its 
apex, and then felt much at a loss as to what should be 
next done. 

" While I was busied in reflection, my eyes fell upon a 
narrow ledge in the eastern face of the rock, perhaps a 
yard below the summit upon which I stood. This ledge 
projected about eighteen inches, and was not more than 
a foot wide, while a niche in the cliff just above it gave it 
a rude resemblance to one of the hollow-backed chairs 
used by our ancestors. I made no doubt that here was 
the ' devil's-seat ' alluded to in the MS., and now I seemed 
to grasp the full secret of the riddle. 

" The ' good glass/ I knew, could have reference to 
nothing but a telescope ; for the word i glass ' is rarely 
employed in any other sense by seamen. Now here, I at 
once saw, was a telescope to be used, and a definite point 
of view, admitting no variation, from which to use it. 
Nor did I hesitate to believe that the phrases, ' forty-one 
degrees and thirteen minutes,' and ' northeast and by 
north,' were intended as directions for the levelling of the 



THE GOLD-BUG. 1 27 

glass. Greatly excited by these discoveries, I hurried 
home, procured a telescope, and returned to the rock. 

" I let myself down to the ledge, and found that it was 
impossible to retain a seat upon it except in one particular 
position. This fact confirmed my preconceived idea. I 
proceeded to use the glass. Of course, the ' forty-one 
degrees and thirteen minutes ' could allude to nothing but 
elevation above the visible horizon, since the horizontal 
direction was clearly indicated by the words, ' northeast 
and by north.' This latter direction I at once established 
by means of a pocket-compass ; then, pointing the glass 
as nearly at an angle of forty-one degrees of elevation as 
I could do it by guess, I moved it cautiously up or down, 
until my attention was arrested by a circular rift or open- 
ing in the foliage of a large tree that overtopped its fellows 
in the distance. In the centre of this rift I perceived a 
white spot, but could not, at first, distinguish what it was. 
Adjusting the focus of the telescope, I again looked, and 
now made it out to be a human skull. 

" Upon this discovery I was so sanguine as to consider 
the enigma solved ; for the phrase ' main branch, seventh 
limb, east side,' could refer only to the position of the 
skull upon the tree, while * shoot from the left eye of the 
death's-head ' admitted, also, of but one interpretation, in 
regard to a search for buried treasure. I perceived that 
the design was to drop a bullet from the left eye of the 
skull, and that a bee-line, or, in other words, a straight 
line, drawn from the nearest point of the trunk through 



128 THE GOLD-BUG. 

1 the shot ' (or the spot where the bullet fell), and thence 
extended to a distance of fifty feet, would indicate a defi- 
nite point — and beneath this point I thought it at least 
possible that a deposit of value lay concealed. " 

" All this," I said, " is exceedingly clear, and, although 
ingenious, still simple and explicit. When you left the 
Bishop's Hotel, what then ? " 

" Why, having carefully taken the bearings of the tree* 
I turned homeward. The instant that I left ' the devil's- 
seat,' however, the circular rift vanished ; nor could I get 
a glimpse of it afterward, turn as I would. What seems 
to me the chief ingenuity in this whole business, is the 
fact (for repeated experiment has convinced me it is a 
fact) that the circular opening in question is visible from 
no other attainable point of view than that afforded by 
the narrow ledge upon the face of the rock. 

" In this expedition to the ' Bishop's Hotel ' I had been 
attended by Jupiter, who had, no doubt, observed, for 
some weeks past, the abstraction of my demeanor, and 
took especial care not to leave me alone. But, on the 
next day, getting up very early, I contrived to give him 
the slip, and went into the hills in search of the tree. 
After much toil I found it. When I came home at night 
my valet proposed to give me a flogging. With the rest 
of the adventure I believe you are as well acquainted as 
myself." 

" I suppose," said I, " you missed the spot, in the first 
attempt at digging, through Jupiter's stupidity in letting 



THE GOLD-BUG. 1 29 

the bug fall through the right instead of through the left 
eye of the skull." 

" Precisely. This mistake made a difference of about 
two inches and a half in the ' shot ' — that is to say, in the 
position of the peg nearest the tree ; and had the treasure 
been beneath the 'shot/ the error would have been of 
little moment ; but ' the shot/ together with the nearest 
point of the tree, were merely two points for the estab- 
lishment of a line of direction ; of course the error, how- 
ever trivial in the beginning, increased as we proceeded 
with the line, and by the time we had gone fifty feet 
threw us quite off the scent. But for my deep-seated 
impressions that treasure was here somewhere actually 
buried, we might have had all our labor in vain." 

" But your grandiloquence, and your conduct in swing- 
ing the beetle — how excessively odd ! I was sure you 
were mad. And why did you insist upon letting fall the 
bug, instead of a bullet, from the skull ? " 

" Why, to be frank, I felt somewhat annoyed by your 
evident suspicions touching my sanity, and so resolved to 
punish you quietly, in my own way, by a little bit of 
sober mystification. For this reason I swung the beetle, 
and for this reason I let it fall from the tree. An obser- 
vation of yours about its great weight suggested the 
latter idea." 

" Yes, I perceive ; and now there is only one point 
which puzzles me. What are j*re to make of the skele- 
tons found in the hole ? " 



' 



130 THE GOLD-BUG. 

" That is a question I am no more able to answer than 
yourself. There seems, however, only one plausible way 
of accounting for them — and yet it is dreadful to believe 
in such atrocity as my suggestion would imply. It is 
clear that Kidd — if Kidd indeed secreted this treasure, 
which I doubt not — it is clear that he must have had 
assistance in the labor. But this labor concluded, he may 
have thought it expedient to remove all participants in 
his secret. Perhaps a couple of blows with a mattock 
were sufficient, while his coadjutors were busy in the pit ; 
perhaps it required a dozen — who shall tell ? " 




THE BALLOON-HOAX. 



[Astounding News by Express, vid Norfolk ! — The Atlantic Crossed in 
Three Days ! Signal Triumph of Mr. Monck Mason's Flying Machine ! — 
Arrival at Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, S. C, of Mr. Mason, Mr. 
Robert Holland, Mr. Henson, Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, and four others, in 
the Steering Balloon, "Victoria," after a Passage of Seventy-five Hours 
from Land to Land ! Full Particulars of the Voyage ! 

The subjoined jeu cT esprit with the preceding heading in magnificent 
capitals, well interspersed with notes of admiration, was originally pub- 
lished, as matter of fact, in the New- York Sun, a. daily newspaper, and 
therein fully subserved the purpose of creating indigestible aliment for the 
quidnuncs during the few hours intervening between a couple of the 
Charleston mails. The rush for the " sole paper which had the news," was 
something beyond even the prodigious ; and, in fact, if (as some assert) the 
"Victoria" did not absolutely accomplish the voyage recorded, it will be 
difficult to assign a reason why she should not have accomplished it.] 

THE great problem is at length solved! The air, as 
well as the earth and the ocean, has been subdued 
by science, and will become a common and convenient 
highway for mankind. The Atlantic has been actually 
crossed in a Balloon ! and this too without difficulty — 
without any great apparent danger — with thorough con- 
trol of the machine — and in the inconceivably brief period 
of seventy-five hours from shore to shore ! By the energy 

131 



132 THE BALLOON-IIOAX. 

of an agent at Charleston, S. C, we are enabled to be the 
first to furnish the public with a detailed account of this 
most extraordinary voyage, which was performed between 
Saturday, the 6th instant, at 1 1 A.M. and 2 P.M., on Tues- 
day, the 9th instant, by Sir Everard Bringhurst ; Mr. 
Osborne, a nephew of Lord Bentinck's ; Mr. Monck 
Mason and Mr. Robert Holland, the well-known aero- 
nauts; Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, author of "Jack Shep- 
pard," etc. ; and Mr. Henson, the projector of the late 
unsuccessful flying machine— with two seamen from 
Woolwich — in all, eight persons. The particulars fur- 
nished below may be relied on as authentic and accurate 
in every respect, as, with a slight exception, they are 
copied verbatim from the joint diaries of Mr. Monck 
Mason and Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, to whose politeness 
our agent is also indebted for much verbal information 
respecting the balloon itself, its construction, and other 
matters of interest. The only alteration in the MS. re- 
ceived, has been made for the purpose of throwing the 
hurried account of our agent, Mr. Forsyth, into a con- 
nected and intelligible form. 

"THE BALLOON. 

" Two very decided failures, of late, — those of Mr. Hen- 
son and Sir George Cayley, — had much weakened the 
public interest in the subject of aerial navigation. Mr. 
Henson's scheme (which at first was considered very 
feasible even by men of science) was founded upon the 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 1 33 

principle of an inclined plane, started from an eminence 
by an extrinsic force, applied and continued by the revo- 
lution of impinging vanes, in form and number resembling 
the vanes of a windmill. But, in all the experiments 
made with models at the Adelaide Gallery, it was "found 
that the operation of these fans not only did not propel 
the machine, but actually impeded its flight. The only 
propelling force it ever exhibited, was the mere impetus 
acquired from the descent of the inclined plane ; and this 
impetus carried the machine farther when the vanes were 
at rest, than when they were in motion — a fact which 
sufficiently demonstrates their inutility; and in the 
absence of the propelling, which was also the sustaining, 
power, the whole fabric would necessarily descend. This 
consideration led Sir George Cayley to think only of 
adapting a propeller to some machine having of itself an 
independent power of support — in a word, to a balloon ; 
the idea, however, being novel, or original, with Sir 
George, only so far as regards the mode of its application 
to practice. He exhibited a model of his invention at the 
Polytechnic Institution. The propelling principle, or 
power, was here, also, applied to interrupted surfaces, or 
I vanes, put in revolution. These vanes were four in num- 
ber, but were found entirely ineffectual in moving the 
balloon, or in aiding its ascending power. The whole 
project was thus a complete failure. 

" It was at this juncture that Mr. Monck Mason (whose 
voyage from Dover to Weilburg in the balloon, ' Nassau/ 



134 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

occasioned so much excitement in 1837) conceived the 
idea of employing the principle of the Archimedean screw 
for the purpose of propulsion through the air — rightly- 
attributing the failure of Mr. Henson's scheme, and of Sir 
1 1 

George Cayley's, to the interruption of surface in the 
independent vanes. He made the first public experiment 
at Willis's Rooms, but afterward removed his model to 
the Adelaide Gallery. 

" Like Sir George Cayley's balloon, his own was an 
ellipsoid. Its length was thirteen feet six inches — height, 
six feet eight inches. It contained about three hundred 
and twenty cubic feet of gas, which, if pure hydrogen, 
would support twenty-one pounds upon its first inflation, 
before the gas has time to deteriorate or escape. The 
weight of the whole machine and apparatus was seventeen 
pounds — leaving about four pounds to spare. Beneath 
the centre of the balloon, was a frame of light wood, 
about nine feet long, and rigged on to the balloon itself 
with a network in the customary manner. From this 
framework was suspended a wicker basket or car. 

" The screw consists of an axis of hollow brass tube, 
eighteen inches in length, through which, upon a semi- 
spiral inclined at fifteen degrees, pass a series of steel- 
wire radii, two feet long, and thus projecting a foot on 
either side. These radii are connected at the outer 
extremities by two bands of flattened wire — the whole in 
this manner forming the framework of the screw, which is 
completed by a covering of oiled silk cut into gores, and 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 1 35 

tightened so as to present a tolerably uniform surface. 
At each end of its axis this screw is supported by pillars 
of hollow brass tube descending from the hoop. In the 
lower ends of these tubes are holes in which the pivots of 
the axis revolve. From the end of the axis which is next 
the car, proceeds a shaft of steel, connecting the screw 
with the pinion of a piece of spring machinery fixed in 
the car. By the operation of this spring, the screw is 
made to revolve with great rapidity, communicating a 
progressive motion to the whole. By means of the rud- 
der, the machine was readily turned in any direction. 
The spring was of great power, compared with its dimen- 
sions, being capable of raising forty-five pounds upon a 
barrel of four inches diameter, after the first turn, and 
gradually increasing as it was wound up. It weighed, 
altogether, eight pounds six ounces. The rudder was a 
light frame of cane covered with silk, shaped somewhat 
like a battledoor, and was about three feet long, and at 
the widest, one foot. Its weight was about two ounces. 
It could be turned flat, and directed upward or down- 
ward, as well as to the right or left ; and thus enabled 
the aeronaut to transfer the resistance of the air which in 
an inclined position it must generate in its passage, to 
any side upon which he might desire to act ; thus 
determining the balloon in the opposite direction. 

" This model (which, through want of time, we have 
necessarily described in an imperfect manner) was put in 
action at the Adelaide Gallery, where it accomplished a 



136 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

velocity of five miles per hour ; although, strange to say, 
it excited very little interest in comparison with the pre- 
vious complex machine of Mr. Henson — so resolute is the 
world to despise any thing which carries with it an air of 
simplicity. To accomplish the great desideratum of aerial 
navigation, it was very generally supposed that some ex- 
ceedingly complicated application must be made of some 
unusually profound principle in dynamics. 

" So well satisfied, however, was Mr. Mason of the 
ultimate success of his invention, that he determined to 
construct immediately, if possible, a balloon of sufficient 
capacity to test the question by a voyage of some extent 
— the original design being to cross the British Channel, 
as before, in the Nassau balloon. To carry out his views, 
he solicited and obtained the patronage of Sir Everard 
Bringhurst and Mr. Osborne, two gentlemen well known 
for scientific acquirement, and especially for the interest 
they have exhibited in the progress of aerostation. The 
project, at the desire of Mr. Osborne, was kept a profound 
secret from the public — the only persons entrusted with 
the design being those actually engaged in the construc- 
tion of the machine, which was built (under the superin- 
tendence of Mr. Mason, Mr. Holland, Sir Everard Bring- 
hurst, and Mr. Osborne) at the seat of the latter gentleman 
near Penstruthal, in Wales. Mr. Henson, accompanied 
by his friend Mr. Ainsworth, was admitted to a private 
view of the balloon, on Saturday last — when the two gen- 
tlemen made final arrangements to be included in the 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 1 37 

adventure. We are not informed for what reason the two 
seamen were also included in the party — but, in the course 
of a day or two, we shall put our readers in possession of 
the minutest particulars respecting this extraordinary 
voyage. 

" The balloon is composed of silk, varnished with the 
liquid gum caoutchouc. It is of vast dimensions, contain- 
ing more than 40,000 cubic feet of gas ; but as coal-gas 
was employed in place of the more expensive and incon- 
venient hydrogen, the supporting power of the machine, 
when fully inflated, and immediately after inflation, is not 
more than about 2500 pounds. The coal-gas is not only 
much less costly, but is easily procured and managed. 

." For its introduction into common use for purposes of 
aerostation, we are indebted to Mr. Charles Green. Up to 
his discovery, the process of inflation was not only ex- 
ceedingly expensive, but uncertain. Two and even three 
days have frequently been wasted in futile attempts to 
procure a sufficiency of hydrogen to fill a balloon, from 
which it had great tendency to escape, owing to its ex- 
treme subtlety, and its affinity for the surrounding atmos- 
phere. In a balloon sufficiently perfect to retain its 
contents of coal-gas unaltered, in quality or amount, for 
six months, an equal quantity of hydrogen could not be 
maintained in equal purity for six weeks. 

" The supporting power being estimated at 2500 pounds, 
and the united weights of the party amounting only to 
about 1200, there was left a surplus of 1300, of which again 



138 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

1200 was exhausted by ballast, arranged in bags of dif- 
ferent sizes, with their respective weights marked upon 
them — by cordage, barometers, telescopes, barrels contain- 
ing provision for a fortnight, water-casks, cloaks, carpet- 
bags, and various other indispensable matters, including a 
coffee-warmer, contrived for warming coffee by means of 
slack-lime, so as to dispense altogether with fire, if it 
should be judged prudent to do so. All these articles, 
with the exception of the ballast, and a few trifles, were 
suspended from the hoop overhead. The car is much 
smaller and lighter, in proportion, than the one appended 
to the model. It is formed of a light wicker, and is won- 
derfully strong, for so frail-looking a machine. Its rim is 
about four feet deep. The rudder is also very much 
larger, in proportion, than that of the model ; and the 
screw is considerably smaller. The balloon is furnished 
besides with a grapnel, and a guide-rope ; which latter is 
of the most indispensable importance. A few words, in 
explanation, will here be necessary for such of our readers 
as are not conversant with the details of aerostation. 

" As soon as the balloon quits the earth, it is subjected 
to the influence of many circumstances tending to create 
a difference in its weight ; augmenting or diminishing its 
ascending power. For example, there may be a depo- 
sition of dew upon the silk, to the extent, even, of several 
hundred pounds ; ballast has then to be thrown out, or 
the machine may descend. This ballast being discarded, 
and a clear sunshine evaporating the dew, and at the same 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 1 39 

time expanding the gas in the silk, the whole will again 
rapidly ascend. To check this ascent, the only resource 
is (or rather was, until Mr. Green's invention of the guide- 
rope) the permission of the escape of gas from the valve ; 
but, in the loss of gas, is a proportionate general loss of 
ascending power ; so that, in a comparatively brief period, 
the best-constructed balloon must necessarily exhaust all 
its resources, and come to the earth. This was the great 
obstacle to voyages of length. 

" The guide-rope remedies the difficulty in the simplest 
manner conceivable. It is merely a very long rope which 
is suffered to trail from the car, and the effect of which is 
to prevent the balloon from changing its level in any 
material degree. If, for example, there should be a de- 
position of moisture upon the silk, and the machine begins 
to descend in consequence, there will be no necessity for 
discharging ballast to remedy the increase of weight, for 
it is remedied, or counteracted, in an exactly just propor- 
tion, by the deposit on the ground of just so much of the 
end of the rope as is necessary. If, on the other hand, 
any circumstances should cause undue levity, and conse- 
quent ascent, this levity is immediately counteracted by 
the additional weight of rope upraised from the earth. 
Thus, the balloon can neither ascend nor descend, except 
within very narrow limits, and its resources, either in gas 
or ballast, remain comparatively unimpaired. When pas- 
sing over an expanse of water, it becomes necessary to 
employ small kegs of copper or wood, filled with liquid 



140 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

ballast of a lighter nature than water. These float, and 
serve all the purposes of a mere rope on land. Another 
most important office of the guide-rope, is to point out 
the direction of the balloon. The rope drags, either on 
land or sea, while the balloon is free ; the latter, conse- 
quently, is always in advance, when any progress whatever 
is made : a comparison, therefore, by means of the com- 
pass, of the relative positions of the two objects, will always 
indicate the course. In the same way, the angle formed 
by the rope with the vertical axis of the machine, indicates 
the velocity. When there is no angle — in other words, 
when the rope hangs perpendicularly, the whole apparatus 
is stationary ; but the larger the angle, that is to say, the 
farther the balloon precedes the end of the rope, the 
greater the velocity ; and the converse. 

"As the original design was to cross the British Chan- 
nel, and alight as near Paris as possible, the voyagers had 
taken the precaution to prepare themselves with passports 
directed to all parts of the Continent, specifying the nature 
of the expedition, as in the case of the 'Nassau ' voyage, 
and entitling the adventurers to exemption from the 
usual formalities of office ; unexpected events, however, 
rendered these passports superfluous. 

" The inflation was commenced very quietly at day- 
break, on Saturday morning, the 6th instant, in the court- 
yard of Weal-Vor House, Mr. Osborne's seat, about a mile 
from Penstruthal, in North Wales ; and at seven minutes 
past eleven, every thing being ready for departure, the 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 141 

balloon was set free, rising gently but steadily, in a direc- 
tion nearly south ; no use being made, for the first half hour, 
of either the screw or the rudder. We proceed now with 
the journal, as transcribed by Mr. Forsyth from the joint 
MSS. of Mr. Monck Mason and Mr. Ainsworth. The 
body of the journal, as given, is in the handwriting of 
Mr. Mason, and a P. S. is appended, each day, by Mr. 
Ainsworth, who has in preparation, and will shortly give 
the public a more minute and, no doubt, a thrillingly in- 
teresting account of the voyage. 

" THE JOURNAL. 

" Saturday, April the 6th. — Every preparation likely to 
embarrass us having been made overnight, we com- 
menced the inflation this morning at daybreak ; but owing 
to a thick fog, which encumbered the folds of the silk 
and rendered it unmanageable, we did not get through 
before nearly eleven o'clock. Cut loose, then, in high 
spirits, and rose gently but steadily, with a light breeze at 
north, which bore us in the direction of the British 
Channel. Found the ascending force greater than we had 
expected ; and as we arose higher and so got clear of the 
cliffs, and more in the sun's rays, our ascent became very 
rapid. I did not wish, however, to lose gas at so early a 
period of the adventure, and so concluded to ascend for 
the present. We soon ran out our guide-rope ; but even 
when we had raised it clear of the earth, we still went up 
very rapidly. The balloon was unusually steady, and 



I4 2 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

looked beautifully. In about ten minutes after starting, 
the barometer indicated an altitude of 15,000 feet. The 
weather was remarkably fine, and the view of the subja- 
cent country — a most romantic one when seen from any 
point — was now especially sublime. The numerous deep 
gorges presented the appearance of lakes, on account of 
the dense vapors with which they were filled, and the 
pinnacles and crags to the south east, piled in inextrica- 
ble confusion, resembling nothing so much as the giant 
cities of Eastern fable. We were rapidly approaching the 
mountains in the south, but our elevation was more than 
sufficient to enable us to pass them in safety. In a few 
minutes we soared over them in fine style ; and Mr. 
Ainsworth, with the seamen, was surprised at their 
apparent want of altitude when viewed from the car, the 
tendency of great elevation in a balloon being to reduce 
inequalities of the surface below, to nearly a dead level. 
At half-past eleven still proceeding nearly south, we 
obtained our first view of the Bristol Channel ; and, in 
fifteen minutes afterward, the line of breakers on the 
coast appeared immediately beneath us, and we were 
fairly out at sea. We now resolved to let off enough gas 
to bring our guide-rope, with the buoys affixed, into the 
water. This was immediately done, and we commenced 
a gradual descent. In about twenty minutes our first 
buoy dipped, and at the touch of the second soon after- 
ward, we remained stationary as to elevation. We were 
all now anxious to test the efficiency of the rudder and 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 1 43 

screw, and we put them both into requisition forthwith, 
for the purpose of altering our direction more to the 
eastward, and in a line for Paris. By means of the rudder 
we instantly effected the necessary change of direction, 
and our course was brought nearly at right angles to that 
of the wind ; when we set in motion the spring of the 
screw, and were rejoiced to find it propel us readily as 
desired. Upon this we gave nine hearty cheers, and 
dropped in the sea a bottle, inclosing a slip of parchment 
with a brief account of the principle of the invention. 
Hardly, however, had we done with our rejoicings, when 
an unforeseen accident occurred which discouraged us in 
no little degree. The steel rod connecting the spring with 
the propeller was suddenly jerked out of place, at the car 
end, (by a swaying of the car through some movement of 
one of the two seamen we had taken up,) and in an in- 
stant hung dangling out of reach, from the pivot of the 
axis of the screw. While we were endeavoring to regain 
it, our attention being completely absorbed, we became 
involved in a strong current of wind from the east, which 
bore us, with rapidly increasing force, toward the Atlantic. 
We soon found ourselves driving out to sea at the rate of 
not less, certainly, than fifty or sixty miles an hour, so that 
we came up with Cape Clear, at some forty miles to our 
north, before we had secured the rod, and had time to 
think what we were about. It was now that Mr. Ains- 
worth made an extraordinary but, to my fancy, a by no 
means unreasonable or chimerical proposition, in which 



H4 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

he was instantly seconded by Mr. Holland — viz. : that we 
should take advantage of the strong gale which bore us 
on, and in place of beating back to Paris, make an attempt 
to reach the coast of North America. After slight reflec- 
tion I gave a willing assent to this bold proposition, 
which (strange to say) met with objection from the two 
seamen only. As the stronger party, however, we over- 
ruled their fears, and kept resolutely upon our course. 
We steered due west ; but as the trailing of the buoys 
materially impeded our progress, and we had the balloon 
abundantly at command, either for ascent or descent, we 
first threw out fifty pounds of ballast, and then wound up 
(by means of a windlass) so much of the rope as brought it 
quite clear of the sea. We perceived the effect of this 
manoeuvre immediately, in a vastly increased rate of 
progress ; and, as the gale freshened, we flew with a 
velocity nearly inconceivable ; the guide-rope flying out 
behind the car, like a streamer from a vessel. It is need- 
less to say that a very short time sufficed us to lose sight 
of the coast. We passed over innumerable vessels of all 
kinds, a few of which were endeavoring to beat up, but 
the most of them lying to. We occasioned the greatest 
excitement on board all — an excitement greatly relished 
by ourselves, and especially by our two men, who, now / 
under the influence of a dram of Geneva, seemed resolved 
to give all scruple, or fear, to the wind. Many of the 
vessels fired signal guns ; and in all we were saluted with 
loud cheers (which we heard with surprising distinctness) 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 145 

and the waving of caps and handkerchiefs. We kept on 
in this manner throughout the day with no material inci- 
dent, and, as the shades of night closed around us, we 
made a rough estimate of the distance traversed. It could 
not have been less than five hundred miles, and was 
probably much more. The propeller was kept in constant 
operation, and, no doubt, aided our progress materially. 
As the sun went down, the gale freshened into an abso- 
lute hurricane, and the ocean beneath was clearly visible 
on account of its phosphorescence. The wind was from 
the east all night, and gave us the brightest omen of 
success. We suffered no little from cold, and the damp- 
ness of the atmosphere was most unpleasant ; but the 
ample space in the car enabled us to lie down, and by 
means of cloaks and a few blankets we did sufficiently 
well. 

" P. S. [by Mr. Ainsworth.] The last nine hours have 
been unquestionably the most exciting of my life. I can 
conceive nothing more sublimating than the strange peril 
and novelty of an adventure such as this. May God 
grant that we succeed ! I ask not success for mere safety 
to my insignificant person, but for the sake of human 
knowledge and — for the vastness of the triumph. And 
yet the feat is only so evidently feasible that the sole 
wonder is why men have scrupled to attempt it before. 
One single gale such as now befriends us — let such a 
tempest whirl forward a balloon for four or five days 
(these gales often last longer) and the voyager will be 



146 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

easily borne, in that period, from coast to coast. In view 
of such a gale the broad Atlantic becomes a mere lake. 
I am more struck, just now, with the supreme silence 
which reigns in the sea beneath us, notwithstanding its 
agitation, than with any other phenomenon presenting 
itself. The waters give up no voice to the heavens. The 
immense flaming ocean writhes and is tortured uncom- 
plainingly. The mountainous surges suggest the idea of 
innumerable dumb gigantic fiends struggling in impotent 
agony. In a night such as is this to me, a man lives — 
lives a whole century of ordinary life — nor would I forego 
this rapturous delight for that of a whole century of 
ordinary existence. 

" Sunday, the yth. [Mr. Mason's MS.] This morning 
the gale, by ten, had subsided to an eight- or nine-knot 
breeze (for a vessel at sea), and bears us, perhaps, thirty 
miles per hour, or more. It has veered, however, very 
considerably to the north ; and now, at sundown, we are 
holding our course due west, principally by the screw and 
rudder, which answer their purposes to admiration. I 
regard the project as thoroughly successful, and the easy 
navigation of the air in any direction (not exactly in the 
teeth of a gale) as no longer problematical. We could 
not have made head against the strong wind of yesterday ; 
but, by ascending, we might have got out of its influence, 
if requisite. Against a pretty stiff breeze, I feel con- 
vinced, we can make our way with the propeller. At 
noon, to-day, ascended to an elevation of nearly 25,000 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 147 

feet, by discharging ballast. Did this to search for a 
more direct current, but found none so favorable as the 
one we are now in. We have an abundance of gas to 
take us across this small pond, even should the voyage 
last three weeks. I have not the slightest fear for the 
result. The difficulty has been strangely exaggerated 
and misapprehended. I can choose my current, and 
should I find all currents against me, I can make very 
tolerable headway with the propeller. We have had no 

I incidents worth recording. The night promises fair. 
"P. S. [By Mr. Ainsworth.] I have little to record, 
except the fact (to me quite a surprising one) that, at an 
elevation equal to that of Cotopaxi, I experienced neither 
very intense cold, nor headache, nor difficulty of breath- 
ing ; neither, I find, did Mr. Mason, nor Mr. Holland, nor 
Sir Everard. Mr. Osborne complained of constriction of 
the chest — but this soon wore off. We have flown at a 
great rate during the day, and we must be more than 
half way across the Atlantic. We have passed over some 
twenty or thirty vessels of various kinds, and all seem to 
be delightfully astonished. Crossing the ocean in a bal- 
loon is not so difficult a feat after all. Omne ignotum 
pro magnifico. Mem. : at 25,000 feet elevation the sky 
appears nearly black, and the stars are distinctly visible ; 
while the sea does not seem convex (as one might 
suppose) but absolutely and most unequivocally concave* 

" * Note — Mr. Ainsworth has not attempted to account for this phenom- 
enon, which, however, is quite susceptible of explanation. A line dropped 



148 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 



" Monday, the St/i. [Mr. Mason's MS.] This morning 
we had again some little trouble with the rod of the pro- 
peller, which must be entirely remodelled, for fear of seri- 
ous accident — I mean the steel rod, not the vanes. The 
latter could not be improved. The wind has been blow- 
ing steadily and strongly from the northeast all day; and 
so far fortune seems bent upon favoring us. Just before 
day, we were all somewhat alarmed at some odd noises 
and concussions in the balloon, accompanied with the ap- 
parent rapid subsidence of the whole machine. These 
phenomena were occasioned by the expansion of the gas, 
through increase of heat in the atmosphere, and the con- 
sequent disruption of the minute particles of ice with 
which the network had become encrusted during th< 
night. Threw down several bottles to the vessels below. 
See one of them picked up by a large ship — seemingh 
one of the New York line packets. Endeavored to mak( 

from an elevation of 25,000 feet, perpendicularly to the surface of theeartl 
(or sea), would form the perpendicular of a right-angled triangle, of whicl 
the base would extend from the right angle to the horizon, and the hypothe 
nuse from the horizon to the balloon. But the 25,000 feet of altitude is 
little or nothing, in comparison with the extent of the prospect. In other 
words, the base and hypothenuse of the supposed triangle would be so long, 
when compared with the perpendicular, that the two former may be regardec 
as nearly parallel. In this manner the horizon of the aeronaut would aj 
pear to be on a level with, the car. But, as the point immediately beneatl 
him seems, and is, at a great distance below him, it seems, of course, also, 
at a great distance below the horizon. Hence the impression of concavity 
and this impression must remain, until the elevation shall bear so great 
proportion to the extent of prospect, that the apparent parallelism of tht 
base and hypothenuse disappears — when the earth's real convexity must be- 
come apparent. 



THE BALLOON-HOAX. 149 

out her name, but could not be sure of it. Mr. Osborne's 
telescope made it out something like ' Atalanta.' It is 
now twelve at night, and we are still going nearly west, at a 
rapid pace. The sea is peculiarly phosphorescent. 

" P. S. [By Mr. Ainsworth.] It is now two A.M., and 
nearly calm, as well as I can judge — but it is very difficult 
to determine this point, since we move with the air so 
completely. I have not slept since quitting Wheal-Vor, 
but can stand it no longer, and must take a nap. We 
cannot be far from the American coast. 

" Tuesday, the gth. [Mr. Ainsworth's MS.] One, p.m. 
We are in full view of the low coast of South Carolina. 
The great problem is accomplished. We have crossed the 
Atlantic — fairly and easily crossed it in a balloon ! God 
be praised ! Who shall say that any thing is impossible 
hereafter ? " 

The Journal here ceases. Some particulars of the de- 
scent were communicated, however, by Mr. Ainsworth to 
Mr. Forsyth. It was nearly dead calm when the voyagers 
first came in view of the coast, which was immediately 
recognized by both the seamen, and by Mr. Osborne. The 
latter gentleman having acquaintances at Fort Moultrie, it 
was immediately resolved to descend in its vicinity. The 
balloon was brought over the beach (the tide being out 
and the sand hard, smooth, and admirably adapted for a 
descent), and the grapnel let go, which took firm hold at 
once. The inhabitants of the island, and of the fort, 
thronged out, of course, to see the balloon ; but it was 



I50 THE BALLOON-HOAX. 

with the greatest difficulty that any one could be made to 
credit the actual voyage — the crossing of the Atlantic. 
The grapnel caught at two P.M. precisely ; and thus the 
whole voyage was completed in seventy-five hours; or 
rather less, counting from shore to shore. No serious ac- 
cident occurred. No real danger was at any time appre- 
hended. The balloon was exhausted and secured without 
trouble ; and when the MS. from which this narrative is 
compiled was despatched from Charleston, the party were 
still at Fort Moultrie. Their further intentions were not 
ascertained ; but we can safely promise our readers some 
additional information either on Monday or in the course 
of the next day, at furthest. 

This is unquestionably the most stupendous, the most 
interesting, and the most important undertaking ever ac- 
complished or even attempted by man. What magnifi- 
cent events may ensue, it would be useless now to think 
of determining. 








^HHP^fl^^;. '/^Of^SBi 


KffiMm 








- 



VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. 



AFTER the very minute and elaborate paper by 
Arago, to say nothing of the summary in Silliman's 
Journal, with the detailed statement just published by 
Lieutenant Maury, it will not be supposed, of course, that 
in offering a few hurried remarks in reference to Von 
Kempeleh's discovery, I have any design to look at the 
subject in a scientific point of view. My object is simply, 
in the first place, to say a few words of Von Kempelen 
himself (with whom, some years ago, I had the honor of 
a slight personal acquaintance), since every thing which 
concerns him must necessarily, at this moment, be of in- 
terest ; and, in the second place, to look in a general way, 
and speculatively, at the results of the discovery. 

It may be as well, however, to premise the cursory ob- 
servations which I have to offer, by denying, very de- 
cidedly, what seems to be a general impression (gleaned, 
as usual in a case of this kind, from the newspapers), viz.: 
that this discovery, astounding as it unquestionably is, is 
unanticipated. 

By reference to the " Diary of Sir Humphrey Davy " 

151 



IS 2 VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. 

(Cottle and Munroe, London, pp. 150), it will be seen at 
pp. 53 and 82, that this illustrious chemist had not only 
conceived the idea now in question, but had actually 
made no inconsiderable progress, experimentally, in the very 
identical analysis now so triumphantly brought to an issue 
by Von Kempelen, who although he makes not the 
slightest allusion to it, is, without doubt (I say it unhesi- 
tatingly, and can prove it, if required), indebted to the 
" Diary" for at least the first hint of his own undertaking. 
Although a little technical, I canot refrain from append- 
ing two passages from the " Diary," with one of Sir 
Humphrey's equations. [As we have not the algebraic 
signs necessary, and as the " Diary" is to be found at the 
Athenaeum Library, we omit here a small portion of Mr. 
Poe's manuscript. — Ed.] 

The paragraph from the Courier and Enquirer, which is 
now going the rounds of the press, and which purports to 
claim the invention for a Mr. Kissam, of Brunswick, Maine, 
appears to me, I confess, a little apocryphal, for several 
reasons ; although there is nothing either impossible or 
very improbable in the statement made. I need not go into 
details. My opinion of the paragraph is founded princi- 
pally upon its manner. It does not look true. Persons 
who are narrating facts, are seldom so particular as Mr. 
Kissam seems to be, about day and date and precise loca- 
tion. Besides, if Mr. Kissam actually did come upon the 
discovery he says he did, at the period designated — nearly 
eight years ago, — how happens it that he took no steps, 






VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY, 1 53 

on the instant, to reap the immense benefits which the 
merest bumpkin must have known would have resulted 
to him individually, if not to the world at large, 
from the discovery? It seems to me quite incred- 
ible that any man of common understanding could 
have discovered what Mr. Kissam says he did, and yet 
have subsequently acted so like a baby — so like an owl — 
as Mr. Kissam admits that he did. By-the-way, who is 
Mr. Kissam? and is not the whole paragraph in the 
Courier and Enquirer a fabrication got up to " make a 
talk " ? It must be confessed that it has an amazingly 
moon-hoax-y air. Very little dependence is to be placed 
upon it, in my humble opinion ; and if I were not well 
aware, from experience, how very easily men of science 
are mystified, on points out of their usual range of inquiry, 
I should be profoundly astonished at finding so eminent 
a chemist as Professor Draper, discussing Mr. Kissam's (or 
is it Mr. Quizzem's?) pretensions to the discovery, in so 
serious a tone. 

But to return to the " Diary " of Sir Humphrey Davy. 
This pamphlet was not designed for the public eye, even 
upon the decease of the writer, as any person at all con- 
versant with authorship may satisfy himself at once by 
the slightest inspection of the style. At page 13, for ex- 
ample, near the middle, we read, in reference to his 
researches about the protoxide of azote : " In less than 
half a minute the respiration being continued, diminished 
gradually and were succeeded by analogous to gentle 



154 VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. 

pressure on all the muscles." That the respiration was not 
" diminished," is not only clear by the subsequent con- 
text, but by the use of the plural, " were." The sentence, 
no doubt, was thus intended : " In less than half a min- 
ute, the respiration being continued, [these feelings] 
diminished gradually, and were succeeded by [a sensation] 
analogous to gentle pressure on all the muscles." A hun- 
dred similar instances go to show that the MS. so incon- 
siderately published, was merely a rough note-book, meant 
only for the writer's own eye ; but an inspection of the 
pamphlet will convince almost any thinking person of the 
truth of my suggestion. The fact is, Sir Humphrey Davy 
was about the last man in the world to comtnit himself 
on scientific topics. Not only had he a more than ordi- 
nary dislike to quackery, but he was morbidly afraid of 
appearing empirical ; so that, however fully he might have 
been convinced that he was on the right track in the 
matter now in question, he would never have spoken out, 
until he had every thing ready for the most practical dem- 
onstration. I verily believe that his last moments would 
have been rendered wretched, could he have suspected 
that his wishes in regard to burning this " Diary " (full of 
crude speculations) would have been unattended to ; as, it 
seems, they were. I say "his wishes," for that he meant 
to include this note-book among the miscellaneous papers 
directed " to be burnt," I think there can be no manner 
of doubt. Whether it escaped the flames by good for- 
tune or by bad, yet remains to be seen. That the passages 



VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCO VER Y. 1 5 5 

quoted above, with the other similar ones referred to, 
gave Von Kempelen the hint, I do not in the slightest 
degree question ; but I repeat, it yet remains to be seen 
whether this momentous discovery itself {momentous under 
any circumstances) will be of service or disservice to man- 
kind at large. That Von Kempelen and his immediate 
friends will reap a rich harvest, it would be folly to doubt 
for a moment. They will scarcely be so weak as not to 
" realize" in time, by large purchases of houses and land, 
with other property of intrinsic value. 

In the brief account of Von Kempelen which appeared 
in the Home Journal, and has since been extensively 
copied, several misapprehensions of the German original 
seem to have been made by the translator, who professes 
to have taken the passage from a late number of the Pres- 
burg Schnellpost. " Viele " has evidently been miscon- 
ceived (as it often is), and what the translator renders by 
r sorrows," is probably " lieden" which, in its true version, 
" sufferings," would give a totally different complexion to 
the whole account ; but, of course, much of this is merely 
guess, on my part. 

Von Kempelen, however, is by no means " a misan- 
thrope," in appearance, at least, whatever he may be in 
fact. My acquaintance with him was casual altogether ; 
and I am scarcely warranted in saying that I know him at 
all ; but to have seen and conversed with a man of so pro- 
digious a notoriety as he has attained, or will attain in a 
few days, is not a small matter, as times go. 



156 VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. 

The Literary World speaks of him, confidently, as a 
native of Presburg (misled, perhaps, by the account in The 
Home Journal') but I am pleased in being able to state 
positively, since I have it from his own lips, that he was 
born in Utica, in the State of New York, although both his 
parents, I believe, are of Presburg descent. The family 
is connected, in some way, with Maelzel, of automaton- 
chess-player memory. [If we are not mistaken, the name 
of the inventor of the chess-player was either Kempelen, 
Von Kempelen, or something like it. — Ed.] In person, 
he is short and stout, with large, fat, blue eyes, sandy 
hair and whiskers, a wide but pleasing mouth, fine 
teeth, and I think a Roman nose. There is some defect in 
one of his feet. His address is frank, and his whole man- 
ner noticeable for bonhommie. Altogether, he looks, 
speaks, and acts as little like " a misanthrope " as any 
man I ever saw. We were fellow-sojourners for a week, 
about six years ago, at Earl's Hotel, in Providence, Rhode 
Island ; and I presume that I conversed with him, at va- 
rious times, for some three or four hours altogether. His 
principal topics were those of the day ; and nothing that 
fell from him led me to suspect his scientific attainments. 
He left the hotel before me, intending to go to New 
York, and thence to Bremen ; it was in the latter city that 
his great discovery was first made public ; or, rather, it 
was there that he was first suspected of having made it. 
This is about all that I personally know of the now im- 
mortal Von Kempelen ; but I have thought that even 
these few details would have interest for the public. 



VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. 1 57 

There can be little question that most of the marvellous 
rumors afloat about this affair are pure inventions, en- 
titled to about as much credit as the story of Alladin's 
lamp ; and yet, in a case of this kind, as in the case of 
the discoveries in California, it is clear that the truth may 
be stranger than fiction. The following anecdote, at least, 
is so well authenticated, that we may receive it implicitly. 

Von Kempelen had never been even tolerably well off 
during his residence at Bremen ; and often, it was well 
known, he had been put to extreme shifts in order to raise 
trifling sums. When the great excitement occurred about 
the forgery on the house of Gutsmuth & Co., suspicion was 
directed toward Von Kempelen, on account of his having 
purchased a considerable property in Gasperitch Lane, 
and his refusing, when questioned, to explain how he be- 
came possessed of the purchase money. He was at 
length arrested, but nothing decisive appearing against 
him, was in the end set at liberty. The police, however, 
kept a strict watch upon his movements, and thus discov- 
ered that he left home frequently, taking always the same 
road, and invariably giving his watchers the slip in the 
neighborhood of that labyrinth of narrow and crooked 
passages known by the flash name of the " Dondergat." 
Finally, by dint of great perseverance, they traced him to 
a garret in an old house of seven stories, in an alley called 
Flatzplatz ; and, coming upon him suddenly, found him, 
as they imagined, in the midst of his counterfeiting opera- 
tions. His agitation is represented as so excessive that 



1 5 8 VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCO VER Y. 

the officers had not the slightest doubt of his guilt. After 
handcuffing him, they searched his room, or rather rooms, 
for it appears he occupied all the mansarde. 

Opening into the garret where they caught him, was a 
closet, ten feet by eight, fitted up with some chemical ap- 
paratus, of which the object has not yet been ascertained. 
In one corner of the closet was a very small furnace, with 
a glowing fire in it, and on the fire a kind of duplicate cru- 
cible — two crucibles connected by a tube. One of these 
crucibles was nearly full of lead in a state of fusion, but 
not reaching up to the aperture of the tube, which was 
close to the brim. The other crucible had some liquid in 
it, which, as the officers entered, seemed to be furiously 
dissipating in vapor. They relate that, on finding himself 
taken, Von Kempelen seized the crucibles with both 
hands (which were encased in gloves that afterward turned 
out to be asbestic), and threw the contents on the tiled 
floor. It was now that they handcuffed him ; and before 
proceeding to ransack the premises, they searched his per- 
son, but nothing unusual was found about him, excepting 
a paper parcel, in his coat-pocket, containing what was af- 
terward ascertained to be a mixture of antimony and some 
unknown substance, in nearly, but not quite, equal propor- 
tions. All attempts at analyzing the unknown substance 
have, so far, failed, but that it will ultimately be analyzed, 
is not to be doubted. 

Passing out of the closet with their prisoner, the officers 
went through a sort of ante-chamber, in which nothing 



VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. I 59 

material was found, to the chemist's sleeping-room. 
They here rummaged some drawers and boxes, but 
discovered only a few papers, of no importance, and 
some good coin, silver and gold. At length, looking 
under the bed, they saw a large, common hair trunk, 
without hinges, hasp, or lock, and with the top lying care- 
lessly across the bottom portion. Upon attempting to 
draw this trunk out from under the bed, they found that, 
with their united strength (there were three of them, all 
powerful men), they " could not stir it one inch." Much 
astonished at this, one of them crawled under the bed, 
and looking into the trunk, said : 

" No wonder we could n't move it — why it 's full to the 
brim of old bits of brass ! " 

Putting his feet, now, against the wall, so as to get a 
good purchase, and pushing with all his force, while his 
companions pulled with all theirs, the trunk, with much 
difficulty, was slid out from under the bed, and its con- 
tents examined. The supposed brass with which it was 
filled was all in small, smooth pieces, varying from the 
size of a pea to that of a dollar; but the pieces were 
irregular in shape, although more or less flat — looking, 
upon the whole, " very much as lead looks when thrown 
upon the ground in a molten state, and there suffered to 
grow cool." Now, not one of these officers for a moment 
suspected this metal to be any thing but brass. The idea 
of its being gold never entered their brains, of course; 
how could such a wild fancy have entered it ? And their 



1 60 VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCO VER Y. 

astonishment may be well conceived, when next day it 
became known, all over Bremen, that the " lot of brass " 
which they had carted so contemptuously to the police 
office, without putting themselves to the trouble of 
pocketing the smallest scrap, was not only gold — real 
gold — but gold far finer than any employed in coinage — 
gold, in fact, absolutely pure, virgin, without the slightest 
appreciable alloy ! 

I need not go over the details of Von Kempelen's con- 
fession (as far as it went) and release, for these are 
familiar to the public. That he has actually realized, in 
spirit and in effect, if not to the letter, the old chimera of 
the philosopher's stone, no sane person is at liberty to 
doubt. The opinions of Arago are, of course, entitled to 
the greatest consideration ; but he is by no means infal- 
lible ; and what he says of bismuth, in his report to the 
Academy, must be taken cum grano salts. The simple 
truth is, that up to this period all analysis has failed ; 
and until Von Kempelen chooses to let us have the key 
to his own published enigma, it is more than probable 
that the matter will remain, for years, in statu quo. All 
that yet can fairly be said to be known is, that "pure 
gold can be made at will, and very readily from lead in 
connection with certain other substances, in kind and in 
proportions, unknown." 

Speculation, of course, is busy as to the immediate and 
ultimate results of this discovery — a discovery which few 
thinking persons will hesitate in referring to an increased 



VON KEMPELEN AND HIS DISCOVERY. l6l 

interest in the matter of gold generally, by the late devel- 
opments in California ; and this reflection brings us inev- 
itably to another — the exceeding inopportiineness of Von 
Kempelen's analysis. If many were prevented from ad- 
venturing to California, by the mere apprehension that 
gold would so materially diminish in value, on account of 
its plentifulness in the mines there, as to render the spec- 
ulation of going so far in search of it a doubtful one — 
what impression will be wrought now, upon the minds of 
those about to emigrate, and especially upon the minds 
of those actually in the mineral region, by the announce- 
ment of this astounding discovery of Von Kempelen? a 
discovery which declares, in so many words, that beyond 
its intrinsic worth for manufacturing purposes (whatever 
that worth may be), gold now is, or at least soon will be 
(for it cannot be supposed that Von Kempelen can long 
retain his secret), of no greater value than lead, and of far 
inferior value to silver. It is, indeed, exceedingly difficult 
to speculate prospectively upon the consequences of the 
discovery ; but one thing may be positively maintained — 
that the announcement of the discovery six months ago, 
would have had material influence in regard to the settle- 
ment of California. 

In Europe, as yet, the most noticeable results have 
been a rise of two hundred per cent, in the price of lead, 
and nearly twenty-five per cent, in that of silver. 




MESMERIC REVELATION. 



WHATEVER doubt may still envelop the ration- 
ale of mesmerism, its startling facts are now al- 
most universally admitted. Of these latter, those who 
doubt, are your mere doubters by profession — an un- 
profitable and disreputable tribe. There can be no more 
absolute waste of time than the attempt to prove, at the 
present day, that man, by mere exercise of will, can so 
impress his fellow, as to cast him into an abnormal con- 
dition, in which the phenomena resemble very closely 
those of death, or at least resemble them more nearly 
than they do the phenomena of any other normal con- 
dition within our cognizance ; that, while in this state, the 
person so impressed employs only with effort, and then 
feebly, the external organs of sense, yet perceives, with 
keenly refined perception, and through channels supposed 
unknown, matters beyond the scope of the physical or- 
gans ; that, moreover, his intellectual faculties are won- 
derfully exalted and invigorated ; that his sympathies 
with the person so impressing him are profound ; and, 
finally, that his susceptibility to the impression increases 

162 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 1 63 

with its frequency, while, in the same proportion, the 
peculiar phenomena elicited are more extended and more 
pronounced. 

I say that these — which are the laws of mesmerism in 
its general features — it would be supererogation to de- 
monstrate ; nor shall I inflict upon my readers so needless 
a demonstration to-day. My purpose at present is a very 
different one indeed. I am impelled, even in the teeth of 
a world of prejudice, to detail, without comment, the very 
remarkable substance of a colloquy occurring between a 
sleep-waker and myself. 

I had been long in the habit of mesmerizing the person 
in question (Mr. Vankirk), and the usual acute suscepti- 
bility and exaltation of the mesmeric perception had su- 
pervened. For many months he had been laboring under 
confirmed phthisis, the more distressing effects of which 
had been relieved by my manipulations ; and on the night 
of Wednesday, the fifteenth instant, I was summoned to 
his bedside. 

The invalid was suffering with acute pain in the region 
of the heart, and breathed with great difficulty, having 
all the ordinary symptoms of asthma. In spasms such as 
these he had usually found relief from the application of 
mustard to the nervous centres, but to-night this had been 
attempted in vain. 

As I entered his room he greeted me with a cheerful 
smile, and although evidently in much bodily pain, ap- 
peared to be, mentally, quite at ease. 



164 MESMERIC REVELATION-. 

" I sent for you to-night," he said, " not so much to 
administer to my bodily ailment, as to satisfy me concern- 
ing certain psychal impressions which, of late, have occa- 
sioned me much anxiety and surprise. I need not tell 
you how sceptical I have hitherto been on the topic of 
the soul's immortality. I cannot deny that there has 
always existed, as if in that very soul which I have been 
denying, a vague half-sentiment of its own existence. But 
this half-sentiment at no time amounted to conviction. 
With it my reason had nothing to do. All attempts at 
logical inquiry resulted, indeed, in leaving me more 
sceptical than before. I had been advised to study 
Cousin. I studied him in his own works as well as in 
those of his European and American echoes. The 
* Charles Elwood ' of Mr. Brownson, for example, was 
placed in my hands. I read it with profound attention. 
Throughout I found it logical, but the portions which 
were not merely logical were unhappily the initial argu- 
ments of the disbelieving hero of the book. In his sum- 
ming up it seemed evident to me that the reasoner had 
not even succeeded in convincing himself. His end had 
plainly forgotten his beginning, like the government of 
Trinculo. In short, I was not long in perceiving that if 
man is to be intellectually convinced of his own immortal- 
ity, he will never be so convinced by the mere abstractions 
which have been so long the fashion of the moralists of 
England, of France, and of Germany. Abstractions may 
amuse and exercise, but take no hold on the mind. Here 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 1 65 

upon earth, at least, philosophy, I am persuaded, will al- 
ways in vain call upon us to look upon qualities as things. 
The will may assent — the soul — the intellect, never. 

" I repeat, then, that I only half felt, and never intel- 
lectually believed. But latterly there has been a certain 
deepening of the feeling, until it has come so nearly to 
resemble the acquiescence of reason, that I find it difficult 
to distinguish between the two. I am enabled, too, 
plainly to trace this effect to the mesmeric influence. I 
cannot better explain my meaning than by the hypoth- 
esis that the mesmeric exaltation enables me to perceive 
a train of ratiocination which, in my abnormal existence, 
convinces, but which, in full accordance with the mes- 
meric phenomena, does not extend, except through its 
effect, into my normal condition. In sleep-waking, the 
reasoning and its conclusion — the cause and its effect — 
are present together. In my natural state, the cause 
vanishing, the effect only, and perhaps only partially, 
remains. 

" These considerations have led me to think that some 
good results might ensue from a series of well-directed 
questions propounded to me while mesmerized. You 
have often observed the profound self-cognizance evinced 
by the sleep-waker— the extensive knowledge he displays 
upon all points relating to the mesmeric condition itself ; 
and from this self-cognizance may be deduced hints for 
the proper conduct of a catechism." 

I consented of course to make this experiment. A few 



I 



1 66 MESMERIC REVELATION. 

passes threw Mr. Vankirk into the mesmeric sleep. His 
breathing became immediately more easy, and he seemed 
to suffer no physical uneasiness. The following conversa- 
tion then ensued : — V. in the dialogue representing the 
patient, and P. myself. 

P. Are you asleep ? 

V. Yes — no ; I would rather sleep more soundly. 

P. [After a few more passes.'] Do you sleep now? 

V. Yes. 

P. How do you think your present illness will result ? 

V. [After a long hesitation and speaking as if with 
effort^] I must die. 

P. Does the idea of death afflict you ? 

V. [ Very quickly.] No — no ! 

P. Are you pleased with the prospect ? 

V. If I were awake I should like to die, but now it is 
no matter. The mesmeric condition is so near death as 
to content me. 

P. I wish you would explain yourself, Mr. Vankirk. 

V. I am willing to do so, but it requires more effort 
than I feel able to make. You do not question me 
properly. 

P. What then shall I ask? 

V. You must begin at the beginning. 

P. The beginning ! But where is the beginning ? 

V. You know that the beginning is GOD. [ This wai 
said in a low, fluctuating tone, and with every sign of the 
most profound veneration^] 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 1 67 

P. What, then, is God ? 
« V. {Hesitating for many minutes^ I cannot tell. 

P. Is not God spirit ? 

V. While I was awake I knew what you meant by 
"spirit," but now it seems only a word — such, for instance, 
as truth, beauty — a quality, I mean. 

P. Is not God immaterial ? 

V. There is no immateriality ; it is a mere word. That 
which is not matter, is not at all — unless qualities are 
things. 

P. Is God, then, material ? 

V. No. {This reply startled me very much^\ 

P. What, then, is he ? 

V. {After a long pause, and mutteringly.~\ I see — but it 
is a thing difficult to tell. {Another long pause.'] He is 
not spirit, for he exists. Nor is he matter, as you under- 
stand it. But there are gradations of matter of which 
man knows nothing ; the grosser impelling the finer, the 
finer pervading the grosser. The atmosphere, for exam- 
ple, impels the electric principle, while the electric prin- 
ciple permeates the atmosphere. These gradations of 
matter increase in rarity or fineness, until we arrive at a 
matter unparticled — without particles — indivisible — one ; 
and here the law of impulsion and permeation is modi- 
fied. The ultimate or unparticled matter not only per- 
meates all things, but impels all things ; and thus is all 
things within itself. This matter is God. What men 
attempt to embody in the word " thought," is this matter 
in motion. 



1 68 MESMERIC REVELATION. 

P. The metaphysicians maintain that all action is re- 
ducible to motion and thinking, and that the latter is the 
origin of the former. 

V. Yes ; and I now see the confusion of idea. Motion I 
is the action of mind, not of thinking. The unparticled 
matter, or God, in quiescence, is (as nearly as we can con- 
ceive it) what men call mind. And the power of self- 
movement (equivalent in effect to human volition) is, in 
the unparticled matter, the result of its unity and omni- 
prevalence ; how, I know not, and now clearly see that I 
shall never know. But the unparticled matter, set in 
motion by a law or quality existing within itself, is 
thinking. 

P. Can you give me no more precise idea of what you 
term the unparticled matter ? 

V. The matters of which man is cognizant escape the 
senses in gradation. We have, for example, a metal, a 
piece of wood, a drop of water, the atmosphere, a gas, 
caloric, electricity, the luminiferous ether. Now, we call 
all these things matter, and embrace all matter in one 
general definition ; but in spite of this, there can be no 
two ideas more essentially distinct than that which we 
attach to a metal, and that which we attach to the lumi- 
niferous ether. When we reach the latter, we feel an 
almost irresistible inclination to class it with spirit, or 
with nihility. The only consideration which restrains us 
is our conception of its atomic constitution ; and here, 
even, we have to seek aid from our notion of an atom, as 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 1 69 

something possessing in infinite minuteness, solidity, pal- 
pability, weight. Destroy the idea of the atomic consti- 
tution and we should no longer be able to regard the 
ether as an entity, or, at least, as matter. For want of 
a better word we might term it spirit. Take, now, a step 
beyond the luminiferous ether ; conceive a matter as 
much more rare than the ether, as this ether is more 
rare than the metal, and we arrive at once (in spite of 
all the school dogmas) at a unique mass — an unparticled 
matter. For although we may admit infinite littleness in 
the atoms themselves, the infinitude of littleness in the 
spaces between them is an absurdity. There will be a 
point — there will be a degree of rarity at which, if the 
atoms are sufficiently numerous, the interspaces must 
vanish, and the mass absolutely coalesce. But the con- 
sideration of the atomic constitution being now taken 
away, the nature of the mass inevitably glides into what 
we conceive of spirit. It is clear, however, that it is as 
fully matter as before. The truth is, it is impossible to 
conceive spirit, since it is impossible to imagine what is 
not. When we flatter ourselves that we have formed 
its conception, we have merely deceived our understand- 
ing by the consideration of infinitely rarified matter. 

P. There seems to me an insurmountable objection to 
the idea of absolute coalescence ; — and that is the very 
slight resistance experienced by the heavenly bodies in 
their revolutions through space — a resistance now ascer- 
tained, it is true, to exist in some degree, but which is, 



1 7° MESMERIC RE VELA TION. 

nevertheless, so slight as to have been quite overlooked 
by the sagacity even of Newton. We know that the re- 
sistance of bodies is, chiefly, in proportion to their density. 
Absolute coalescence is absolute density. Where there 
are no interspaces, there can be no yielding. An ether, 
absolutely dense, would put an infinitely more effectual 
stop to the progress of a star than would an ether of ada- 
mant or of iron. 

V. Your objection is answered with an ease which is 
nearly in the ratio of its apparent unanswerability. — As 
regards the progress of the star, it can make no difference 
whether the star passes through the ether or the ether 
through it. There is no astronomical error more unac- 
countable than that which reconciles the known retarda- 
tion of the comets with the idea of their passage through 
an ether ; for, however rare this ether be supposed, it 
would put a stop to all sidereal revolution in a very far 
briefer period than has been admitted by those astrono- 
mers who have endeavored to slur over a point which they 
found it impossible to comprehend. The retardation 
actually experienced is, on the other hand, about that 
which might be expected from the friction of the ether in 
the instantaneous passage through the orb. In the one 
case, the retarding force is momentary and complete within 
itself — in the other it is endlessly accumulative. 

P. But in all this — in this identification of mere matter 
with God — is there nothing of irreverence ? [/ was forced 
to repeat this question before the sleep-waker fully com- 
prehended my meaning^ 






MESMERIC REVELATION. 171 

V. Can you say why matter should be less reverenced 
than mind ? But you forget that the matter of which I 
speak is, in all respects, the very " mind " or " spirit " of 
the schools, so far as regards its high capacities, and is, 
moreover, the " matter " of these schools at the same time. 
God, with all the powers attributed to spirit, is but the 
perfection of matter. 

P. You assert, then, that the unparticled matter, in 
motion, is thought. 

V. In general, this motion is the universal thought of 
the universal mind. This thought creates. All created 
things are but the thoughts of God. 

P. You say, " in general." 

V. Yes. The universal mind is God. For new indi- 
vidualities, matter is necessary. 

P. But you now speak of " mind " and " matter " as do 
the metaphysicians. 

V. Yes — to avoid confusion. When I say " mind," I 
mean the unparticled or ultimate matter ; by " matter," I 
intend all else. 

P. You were saying that " for new individualities matter 
is necessary." 

V. Yes ; for mind, existing unincorporate, is merely 
God. To create individual, thinking beings, it was neces- 
sary to incarnate portions of the divine mind. Thus man 
is individualized. Divested of corporate investiture, he 
were God. Now the particular motion of the incarnated 
portions of the unparticled matter is the thought of man ; 
as the motion of the whole is that of God. 



1 7 2 MESMERIC RE VELA TION. 

P. You say that divested of the body man will be God ? 

V. [After much hesitation^ I could not have said this ; 
it is an absurdity. 

P. {Referring to my notes.] You did say that " divested 
of corporate investiture man were God." 

V. And this is true. Man thus divested would be God 
— would be unindividualized. But he can never be thus 
divested — at least never will be — else we must imagine an 
action of God returning upon itself — a purposeless and 
futile action. Man is a creature. Creatures are thoughts 
of God. It is the nature of thought to be irrevocable. 

P. I do not comprehend. You say that man will never 
put off the body? 

V. I say that he will never be bodiless. 

P. Explain. 

V. There are two bodies — the rudimental and the com- 
plete, corresponding with the two conditions of the worm 
and the butterfly. What we call " death," is but the 
painful metamorphosis. Our present incarnation is pro- 
gressive, preparatory, temporary. Our future is perfected, 
ultimate, immortal. The ultimate life is the full design. 

P. But of the worm's metamorphosis we are palpably 
cognizant. 

V. We, certainly — but not the worm. The matter of 
which our rudimental body is composed, is within the ken 
of the organs of that body ; or, more distinctly, our rudi- 
mental organs are adapted to the matter of which is 
formed the rudimental body ; but not to that of which 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 1 73 

the ultimate is composed. The ultimate body thus escapes 
our rudimental senses, and we perceive only the shell 
which falls, in decaying, from the inner form ; not that 
inner form itself ; but this inner form, as well as the shell, 
is appreciable by those who have already acquired the ul- 
timate life. 

P. You have often said that the mesmeric state very 
nearly resembles death. How is this ? 

V. When I say that it resembles death, I mean that it 
resembles the ultimate life ; for when I am entranced the 
senses of my rudimental life are in abeyance, and I per- 
ceive external things directly, without organs, through a 
medium which I shall employ in the ultimate, unorga- 
nized life. 

P. Unorganized ? 

V. Yes ; organs are contrivances by which the individual 
is brought into sensible relation with particular classes 
and forms of matter, to the exclusion of other classes and 
forms. The organs of man are adapted to his rudimental 
condition, and to that only ; his ultimate condition, being 
unorganized, is of unlimited comprehension in all points 
but one — the nature of the volition of God — that is to say, 
the motion of the unparticled matter. You will have a 
distinct idea of the ultimate body by conceiving it to be 
entire brain. This it is not ; but a conception of this na- 
ture will bring you near a comprehension of what it is, A 
luminous body imparts vibration to the luminiferous ether. 
The vibrations generate similar ones within the retina ; 



174 MESMERIC REVELATION. 

these again communicate similar ones to the optic nerve. 
The nerve conveys similar ones to the brain; the brain, 
also, similar ones to the unparticled matter which per- 
meates it. The motion of this latter is thought, of which 
perception is the first undulation. This is the mode by 
which the mind of the rudimental life communicates with 
the external world ; and this external world is, to the rud- 
imental life, limited, through the idiosyncrasy of its or- 
gans. But in the ultimate, unorganized life, the external 
world reaches the whole body, (which is of a substance 
having affinity to brain, as I have said,) with no other in- 
tervention than that of an infinitely rarer ether than even 
the luminiferous ; and to this ether — in unison with it — 
the whole body vibrates, setting in motion the unparticled 
matter which permeates it. It is to the absence of idiosyn- 
cratic organs, therefore, that we must attribute the nearly 
unlimited perception of the ultimate life. To rudimental 
beings, organs are the cages necessary to confine them 
until fledged. 

P. You speak of rudimental " beings." Are there other 
rudimental thinking beings than man ? 

V. The multitudinous conglomeration of rare matter 
into nebulae, planets, suns, and other bodies which are 
neither nebulae, suns, nor planets, is for the sole purpose 
of supplying pabulum for the idosyncrasy of the organs of 
an infinity of rudimental beings. But for the necessity of 
the rudimental, prior to the ultimate life, there would have 
been no bodies such as these. Each of these is tenanted 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 1 75 

by a distinct variety of organic, rudimental, thinking 
creatures. In all, the organs vary with the features of the 
place tenanted. At death, or metamorphosis, these 
creatures, enjoying the ultimate life — immortality — and 
cognizant of all secrets but the one, act all things and pass 
every where by mere volition : — indwelling, not the stars, 
which to us seem the sole palpabilities, and for the accom- 
modation of which we blindly deem space created — but 
that SPACE itself — that infinity of which the truly sub- 
stantive vastness swallows up the star-shadows — blotting 
them out as non-entities from the perception of the angels. 

P. You say that " but for the necessity of the rudi- 
mental life, there would have been no stars. But why 
this necessity ? 

V. In the inorganic life, as well as in the inorganic 
matter generally, there is nothing to impede the action of 
one simple unique law — the Divine Volition. With the 
view of producing impediment, the organic life and matter 
(complex, substantial, and law-encumbered) were con- 
trived. 

P. But again — why need this impediment have been 
produced ? 

V. The result of law inviolate is perfection — right — 
negative happiness. The result of law violate is imper- 
fection, wrong, positive pain. Through the impediments 
afforded by the number, complexity, and substantiality of 
the laws of organic life and matter, the violation of law is 
rendered, to a certain extent, practicable. Thus pain, 



17& MESMERIC REVELATION. 

which in the inorganic life is impossible, is possible in the 
organic. 

P. But to what good end is pain thus rendered pos- 
sible ? 

V. All things are either good or bad by comparison. A 
sufficient analysis will show that pleasure, in all cases, is 
but the contrast of pain. Positive pleasure is a mere idea. 
To be happy at any one point we must have suffered at 
the same. Never to suffer would have been never to have 
been blessed. But it has been shown that, in the in- 
organic life, pain cannot be ; thus the necessity for the 
organic. The pain of the primitive life of Earth, is the 
sole basis of the bliss of the ultimate life in Heaven. 

P. Still, there is one of your expressions which I find it 
impossible to comprehend — "the truly substantive vast- 
ness of infinity." 

V. This, probably, is because you have no sufficiently 
generic conception of the term " substance " itself. We 
must not regard it as a quality, but as a sentiment : — it is 
the perception, in thinking beings, of the adaptation of 
matter to their organization. There are many things oh 
the Earth, which would be nihility to the inhabitants of 
Venus — many things visible and tangible in Venus, which 
we could not be brought to appreciate as existing at all. 
But to the inorganic beings — to the angels — the whole of 
the unparticled matter is substance ; that is to say, the 
whole of what we term " space," is to them the truest 
substantiality; — the stars, meantime, through what we 



MESMERIC REVELATION. 177 

consider their materiality, escaping the angelic sense, just 
in proportion as the unparticled matter, through what we 
consider its immateriality, eludes the organic. 

As the sleep-waker pronounced these latter words, in a 
feeble tone, I observed on his countenance a singular ex- 
pression, which somewhat alarmed me, and induced me to 
awake him at once. No sooner had I done this, than, 
with a bright smile irradiating all his features, he fell back 
upon his pillow and expired. I noticed that in less than 
a minute afterward his corpse had all the stern rigidity of 
stone. His brow was of the coldness of ice. Thus, ordi- 
narily, should it have appeared, only after long pressure 
from Azrael's hand. Had the sleep-waker, indeed, during 
the latter portion of his discourse, been addressing me 
from out the region of the shadows ? 



^a^^W^^^ 






THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF 
M. VALDEMAR. 



OF course I shall not pretend to consider it any 
matter for wonder, that the extraordinary case of 
M. Valdemar has excited discussion. It would have been 
a miracle had it not — especially under the circumstances. 
Through the desire of all parties concerned, to keep the 
affair from the public, at least for the present, or until we 
had further opportunities for investigation — through our 
endeavors to effect this — a garbled or exaggerated account 
made its way into society, and became the source of many 
unpleasant misrepresentations ; and, very naturally, of a 
great deal of disbelief. 

It is now rendered necessary that I give the/acts — as far 
as I comprehend them myself. They are, succinctly, these : 

My attention, for the last three years, had been repeat- 
edly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism ; and, about nine 
months ago, it occurred to me, quite suddenly, that in the 
series of experiments made hitherto, there had been a 
very remarkable and most unaccountable omission : — no 
person had as yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis. It 

178 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR, 1 79 

remained to be seen, first, whether, in such condition, 
there existed in the patient any susceptibility to the mag- 
netic influence ; secondly, whether, if any existed, it was 
impaired or increased by the condition ; thirdly, to what 
extent, or for how long a period, the encroachments of 
Death might be arrested by the process. There were 
other points to be ascertained, but these most excited my 
curiosity — the last in especial, from the immensely impor- 
tant character of its consequences. 

In looking around me for some subject by whose means 
I might test these particulars, I was brought to think of my 
friend, M. Ernest Valdemar, the well-known compiler of 
the " Bibliotheca Forensica," and author (under the nom 
de plume of Issachar Marx) of the Polish versions of 
" Wallenstein " and " Gargantua." M. Valdemar, who 
has resided principally at Harlem, N. Y., since the year 
1839, is (or was) particularly noticeable for the extreme 
spareness of his person — his lower limbs much resembling 
those of John Randolph ; and, also, for the whiteness of 
his whiskers, in violent contrast to the blackness of his 
hair — the latter, in consequence, being very generally 
mistaken for a wig. His temperament was markedly ner- 
vous, and rendered him a good subject for mesmeric 
experiment. On two or three occasions I had put him to 
sleep with little difficulty, but was disappointed in other 
results which his peculiar constitution had naturally led 
me to anticipate. His will was at no period positively, or 
thoroughly, under my control, and in regard to clairvoy- 



180 THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 

ance, I could accomplish with him nothing to be relied 
upon. I always attributed my failure at these points to the 
disordered state of his health. For some months previous 
to my becoming acquainted with him, his physicians had 
declared him in a confirmed phthisis. It was his custom, 
indeed, to speak calmly of his approaching dissolution, as 
of a matter neither to be avoided nor regretted. 

When the ideas to which I have alluded first occurred 
to me, it was of course very natural that I should think of 
M. Valdemar. I knew the steady philosophy of the man 
too well to apprehend any scruples from him; and he had 
no relatives in America who would be likely to interfere. 
I spoke to him frankly upon the subject ; and, to my sur- 
prise, his interest seemed vividly excited. I say to my 
surprise ; for, although he had always yielded his person 
freely to my experiments, he had never before given me 
any tokens of sympathy with what I did. His disease 
was of that character which would admit of exact calcula- 
tion in respect to the epoch of its termination in death ; 
and it was finally arranged between us that he would send 
for me about twenty-four hours before the period an- 
nounced by his physicians as that of his decease. 

It is now rather more than seven months since I re- 
ceived, from M. Valdemar himself, the subjoined note : 

" My Dear P . 



" You may as well come now. D and F are agreed 

that I cannot hold out beyond to-morrow midnight ; and I 
think they have hit the time very nearly. Valdemar." 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. l8l 

I received this note within half an hour after it was 
written, and in fifteen minutes more I was in the dying 
man's chamber. I had not seen him for ten days, and was 
appalled by the fearful alteration which the brief interval 
had wrought in him. His face wore a leaden hue ; the 
eyes were utterly lustreless ; and the emaciation was so 
extreme, that the skin had been broken through by the 
cheek-bones. His expectoration was excessive. The 
pulse was barely perceptible. He retained, nevertheless, 
in a very remarkable manner, both his mental power and 
a certain degree of physical strength. He spoke with 
distinctness — took some palliative medicines without aid 
— and, when I entered the room, was occupied in pen- 
ciling memoranda in a pocket-book. He was propped up 

in the bed by pillows. Doctors D and F were in 

attendance. 

After pressing Valdemar's hand, I took these gentlemen 
aside, and obtained from them a minute account of the 
patient's condition. The left lung had been for eighteen 
months in a semi-osseous or cartilaginous state, and was, 
of course, entirely useless for all purposes of vitality. 
The right, in its upper portion, was also partially, if not 
t thoroughly, ossified, while the lower region was merely a 
mass of purulent tubercles, running one into another. 
Several extensive perforations existed ; and, at one point, 
permanent adhesion to the ribs had taken place. These 
appearances in the right lobe were of comparatively recent 
date. The ossification had proceeded with very unusual 



1 82 THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 

rapidity ; no sign of it had been discovered a month 
before, and the adhesion had only been observed during 
the three previous days. Independently of the phthisis, 
the patient was suspected of aneurism of the aorta ; but 
on this point the osseous symptoms rendered an exact 
diagnosis impossible. It was the opinion of both physi- 
cians that M. Valdemar would die about midnight on the 
morrow (Sunday.) It was then seven o'clock on Saturday 
evening. 

On quitting the invalid's bedside to hold conversation 

with myself, Doctors D and F had bidden him a 

final farewell. It had not been their intention to return ; 
but, at my request, they agreed to look in upon the 
patient about ten the next night. 

When they had gone, I spoke freely with M. Valdemar 
on the subject of his approaching dissolution, as well as, 
more particularly, of the experiment proposed. He still 
professed himself quite willing and even anxious to have 
it made, and urged me to commence it at once. A male 
and a female nurse were in attendance ; but I did not feel 
myself altogether at liberty to engage in a task of this 
character with no more reliable witnesses than these peo- 
ple, in case of sudden accident, might prove. I therefore 
postponed operations until about eight the next night, 
when the arrival of a medical student, with whom I had 

some acquaintance, (Mr. Theodore L 1,) relieved me 

from further embarrassment. It had been my design, 
originally, to wait for the physicians ; but I was induced 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 183 

to proceed, first, by the urgent entreaties of M. Valdemar, 
and secondly, by my conviction that I had not a moment 
to lose, as he was evidently sinking fast. 

Mr. L 1 was so kind as to accede to my desire that 

he would take notes of all that occurred ; and it is from 
his memoranda that what I now have to relate is, for the 
most part, either condensed or copied verbatim. 

It wanted about five minutes of eight when, taking the 
patient's hand, I begged him to state, as distinctly as he 

could, to Mr. L , whether he (M. Valdemar) was 

entirely willing that I should make the experiment of 
mesmerizing him in his then condition. 

He replied feebly, yet quite audibly : " Yes, I wish to be 
mesmerized " — adding immediately afterward : " I fearyou 
have deferred it too long." 

While he spoke thus, I commenced the passes which I 
had already found most effectual in subduing him. He 
was evidently influenced with the first lateral stroke of 
my hand across his forehead ; but, although I exerted all 
my powers, no further perceptible effect was induced until 

some minutes after ten o'clock, when Doctors D and 

F called, according to appointment. I explained to 

them, in a few words, what I designed, and as they op- 
posed no objection, saying that the patient was already in 
the death agony, I proceeded without hesitation — ex- 
changing, however, the lateral passes for downward ones, 
and directing my gaze entirely into the right eye of the 
sufferer. 



1 84 THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 

By this time his pulse was imperceptible and his breath- 
ing was stertorious, and at invervals of half a minute. 

This condition was nearly unaltered for a quarter of an 
hour. At the expiration of this period, however, a natu- 
ral although a very deep sigh escaped from the bosom of 
the dying man, and the stertorious breathing ceased — 
that is to say, its stertoriousness was no longer apparent ; 
the intervals were undiminished. The patient's extremi- 
ties were of an icy coldness. 

At five minutes before eleven, I perceived unequivocal 
signs of the mesmeric influence. The glassy roll of the 
eye was changed for that expression of uneasy inward ex- 
amination which is never seen except in cases of sleep- 
waking, and which it is quite impossible to mistake. With 
a few rapid lateral passes I made the lids quiver, as in in- 
cipient sleep, and with a few more I closed them alto- 
gether. I was not satisfied, however, with this, but con- 
tinued the manipulations vigorously, and with the fullest 
exertion of the will, until I had completely stiffened the 
limbs of the slumberer, after placing them in a seemingly 
easy position. The legs were at full length ; the arms 
were nearly so, and reposed on the bed at a moderate 
r distance from the loins. The head was very slightly 
elevated. 

When I had accomplished this, it was fully midnight, 
and I requested the gentlemen present to examine M. 
Valdemar's condition. After a few experiments, they ad- 
mitted him to be in an unusually perfect state of mesmeric 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. I85 

trance. The curiosity of both the physicians was greatly 

excited. Dr. D resolved at once to remain with the 

patient all night, while Dr. F took leave with a 

promise to return at daybreak. Mr. L 1 and the nurses 

remained. 

We left M. Valdemar entirely undisturbed until about 
three o'clock in the morning, when I approached him and 
found him in precisely the same condition as when Dr. 
F went away — that is to say, he lay in the same posi- 
tion ; the pulse was imperceptible ; the breathing was 
gentle (scarcely noticeable, unless through the application 
of a mirror to the lips) ; the eyes were closed naturally ; 
and the limbs were as rigid and as cold as marble. Still, 
the general appearance was certainly not that of death. 

As I approached M. Valdemar I made a kind of half 
effort to influence his right arm into pursuit of my own, 
as I passed the latter gently to and fro above his person. 
In such experiments with this patient, I had never per- 
fectly succeeded before, and assuredly I had little thought 
of succeeding now ; but to my astonishment, his arm very 
readily, although feebly, followed every direction I as- 
signed it with mine. I determined to hazard a few words 
of conversation. 

" M. Valdemar," I said, " are you asleep ? " He made 
no answer, but I perceived a tremor about the lips, and 
was thus induced to repeat the question, again and again. 
At its third repetition, his whole frame was agitated by a 
very slight shivering; the eyelids unclosed themselves so 



1 86 THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 

far as to display a white line of a ball ; the lips moved 
sluggishly, and from between them, in a barely audible 
whisper, issued the words : 

" Yes ; — asleep now. Do not wake me ! — let me die so ! " 

I here felt the limbs, and found them as rigid as ever. 
The right arm, as before, obeyed the direction of my 
hand. I questioned the sleep-waker again : 

" Do you still feel pain in the breast, M. Valdemar? " 

The answer now was immediate, but even less audible 
than before : 

" No pain — I am dying ! " 

I did not think it advisable to disturb him further just 
then, and nothing more was said or done until the arrival 
of Dr. F , who came a little before sunrise, and ex- 
pressed unbounded astonishment at finding the patient 
still alive. After feeling the pulse and applying a mirror 
to the lips, he requested me to speak to the sleep-waker 
again. I did so, saying : 

" M. Valdemar, do you still sleep ? " 

As before, some minutes elapsed ere a reply was made ; 
and during the interval the dying man seemed to be col- 
lecting his energies to speak. At my fourth repetition of 
the question, he said very faintly, almost inaudibly : 

" Yes ; still asleep — dying." 

It was now the opinion, or rather the wish, of the phy- 
sicians, that M. Valdemar should be suffered to remain 
undisturbed in his present apparently tranquil condition, 
until death should supervene — and this, it was generally 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 1 87 

agreed, must now take place within a few minutes. I 
concluded, however, to speak to him once more, and 
merely repeated my previous question. 

While I spoke, there came a marked change over the 
countenance of the sleep-waker. The eyes rolled them- 
selves slowly open, the pupils disappearing upwardly ; 
the skin generally assumed a cadaverous hue, resembling 
not so much parchment as white paper ; and the circular 
hectic spots which, hitherto, had been strongly defined in 
the centre of each cheek, went out at once. I use this ex- 
pression, because the suddenness of their departure put me 
in mind of nothing so much as the extinguishment of a 
candle by a puff of the breath. The upper lip, at the 
same time, writhed itself away from the teeth, which it 
had previously covered completely ; while the lower jaw 
fell with an audible jerk, leaving the mouth widely ex- 
tended, and disclosing in full view the swollen and black- 
ened tongue. I presume that no member of the party 
then present had been unaccustomed to death-bed horrors ; 
but so hideous beyond conception was the appearance of 
M. Valdemar at this moment, that there was a general 
shrinking back from the region of the bed. 

I now feel that I have reached a point of this narra- 
tive at which every reader will be startled into posi- 
tive disbelief. It is my business, however, simply to 
proceed. 

There was no longer the faintest sign of vitality in M. 
Valdemar; and concluding him to be dead, we were con- 



1 88 THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 

signing him to the charge of the nurses, when a strong 
vibratory motion was observable in the tongue. This con- 
tinued for perhaps a minute. At the expiration of this 
period, there issued from the distended and motionless 
jaws a voice — such as it would be madness in me to at- 
tempt describing. There are, indeed, two or three epithets 
which might be considered as applicable to it in part ; I 
might say, for example, that the sound was harsh, and 
broken and hollow ; but the hideous whole is indescrib- 
able, for the simple reason that no similar sounds have 
ever jarred upon the ear of humanity. There were two 
particulars, nevertheless, which I thought then, and still 
think, might fairly be stated as characteristic of the in- 
tonation — as well adapted to convey some idea of its un- 
earthly peculiarity. In the first place, the voice seemed 
to reach our ears — at least mine — from a vast distance, or 
from some deep cavern within the earth. In the second 
place, it impressed me (I fear, indeed, that it will be im- 
possible to make myself comprehended) as gelatinous 
or glutinous matters impress the sense of touch. 

I have spoken both of "sound" and of "voice." I 
mean to say that the sound was one of distinct — of even 
wonderfully, thrillingly distinct — syllabification. M. Val- 
demar spoke — obviously in reply to the question I had 
propounded to him a few minutes before. I had asked 
him, it will be remembered, if he still slept. He now 
said : 

" Yes ; — no ; — I have been sleeping — and now — now — / 
am dead." 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 1 89 

No person present even affected to deny, or attempted 
to repress, the unutterable, shuddering horror which these 
few words, thus uttered, were so well calculated to convey. 
Mr. L 1 (the student) swooned. The nurses imme- 
diately left the chamber, and could not be induced to re- 
turn. My own impressions I would not pretend to render 
intelligible to the reader. For nearly an hour, we busied 
ourselves, silently — without the utterance of a word — in 
endeavors to revive Mr. L 1. When he came to him- 
self, we addressed ourselves again to an investigation of 
M. Valdemar's condition. 

It remained in all respects as I have last described it, 
with the exception that the mirror no longer afforded evi- 
dence of respiration. An attempt to draw blood from the 
arm failed. I should mention, too, that this limb was no 
further subject to my will. I endeavored in vain to make 
it follow the direction of my hand. The only real indica- 
tion, indeed, of the mesmeric influence, was now found in 
the vibratory movement of the tongue, whenever I ad- 
dressed M. Valdemar a question. He seemed to be making 
an effort to reply, but had no longer sufficient volition. 
To queries put to him by any other person than myself 
he seemed utterly insensible — although I endeavored to 
place each member of the company in mesmeric rapport 
with him. I believe that I have now related all that is 
necessary to an understanding of the sleep-waker's state 
at this epoch. Other nurses were procured ; and at ten 
o'clock I left the house in company with the two physi- 
cians and Mr. L 1. 



190 THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 

In the afternoon we all called again to see the patient. 
His condition remained precisely the same. We had 
now some discussion as to the propriety and feasibility of 
awakening him ; but we had little difficulty in agreeing 
that no good purpose would be served by so doing. It 
was evident that, so far, death (or what is usually termed 
death) had been arrested by the mesmeric process. It 
seemed clear to us all that to awaken M. Valdemar would 
be merely to insure his instant, or at least his speedy, dis- 
solution. 

From this period until the close of last week — an inter- 
val of nearly seven months — we continued to make daily 
calls at M. Valdemar's house, accompanied, now and then, 
by medical and other friends. All this time the sleep- 
waker remained exactly as I have last described him. 
The nurses' attentions were continual. 

It was on Friday last that we finally resolved to make 
the experiment of awakening, or attempting to awaken 
him ; and it is the (perhaps) unfortunate result of this 
latter experiment which has given rise to so much discus- 
sion in private circles — to so much of what I cannot help 
thinking unwarranted popular feeling. 

For the purpose of relieving M. Valdemar from the 
mesmeric trance, I made use of the customary passes. 
These for a time were unsuccessful. The first indication 
of revival was afforded by a partial descent of the iris. It 
was observed, as especially remarkable, that this lowering 
of the pupil was accompanied by the profuse out-flowing 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 191 

of a yellowish ichor (from beneath the lids) of a pungent 
and highly offensive odor. 

It was now suggested that I should attempt to influence 
the patient's arm as heretofore. I made the attempt and 

failed. Dr. F then intimated a desire to have me 

put a question. I did so, as follows : 

" M. Valdemar, can you explain to us what are your 
feelings or wishes now ? " 

There was an instant return of the hectic circles on the 
cheeks : the tongue quivered, or rather rolled violently in 
the mouth (although the jaws and lips remained rigid as 
before), and at length the same hideous voice which I 
have already described, broke forth : 

" For God's sake ! — quick ! — quick ! — put me to sleep — 
or, quick ! — waken me ! — quick ! — I say to you that I am 
dead!" 

I was thoroughly unnerved, and for an instant remained 
undecided what to do. At first I made an endeavor to 
recompose the patient ; but, failing in this through total 
abeyance of the will, I retraced my steps and as earnestly 
struggled to awaken him. In this attempt I soon saw that 
I should be successful — or at least I soon fancied that my 
success would be complete — and I am sure that all in the 
room were prepared to see the patient awaken. 

For what really occurred, however, it is quite impossible 
that any human being could have been prepared. 

As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejacula- 
tions of " dead ! dead ! " absolutely bursting from the 



192 



THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. 



tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, his whole 
frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or 
less, shrunk — crumbled — absolutely rotted away beneath 
my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, 
there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detest- 
able putrescence. 




THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE OF 
SCHEHERAZADE. 



Truth is stranger than fiction. — Old Saying. 

HAVING had occasion, lately, in the course of some 
Oriental investigations, to consult the " Tellmenow 
Isitsoornot," a work which (like the "Zohar " of Simeon 
Jochaides) is scarcely known at all, even in Europe ; and 
which has never been quoted, to my knowledge, by any 
American — if we except, perhaps, the author of the 
" Curiosities of American Literature " ; — having had occa- 
sion, I say, to turn over some pages of the first-mentioned 
very remarkable work, I was not a little astonished to 
discover that the literary world has hitherto been strangely 
in error respecting the fate of the vizier's daughter, Sche- 
herazade, as that fate is depicted in the" Arabian Nights " ; 
and that the denouement there given, if not altogether in- 
accurate, as far as it goes, is at least to blame in not having 
gone very much farther. 

For full information on this interesting topic, I must 
refer the inquisitive reader to the " Isitsoornot " itself; 

193 



I 



194 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

but, in the meantime, I shall be pardoned for giving a 
summary of what I there discovered. 

It will be remembered, that, in the usual version of the 
tales, a certain monarch, having good cause to be jealous 
of his queen, not only puts her to death, but makes a vow, 
by his beard and the prophet, to espouse each night the 
most beautiful maiden in his dominions, and the next 
morning to deliver her up to the executioner. 

Having fulfilled this vow for many years to the letter, 
and with a religious punctuality and method that con- 
ferred great credit upon him as a man of devout feel- 
ing and excellent sense, he was interrupted one after- 
noon (no doubt at his prayers) by a visit from his grand 
vizier, to whose daughter, it appears, there had occurred 
an idea. 

Her name was Scheherazade, and her idea was, that she 
would either redeem the land from the depopulating tax 
upon its beauty, or perish, after the approved fashion of 
all heroines, in the attempt. 

Accordingly, and although we do not find it to be leap- 
year (which makes the sacrifice more meritorious), she 
deputes her father, the grand vizier, to make an offer to 
the king of her hand. This hand the king eagerly 
accepts — (he had intended to take it at all events, and 
had put off the matter from day to day, only through 
fear of the vizier), — but, in accepting it now, he gives all 
parties very distinctly to understand, that, grand vizier or 
no grand vizier, he has not the slightest design of giving 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 1 95 

up one iota of his vow or of his privileges. When, there- 
fore, the fair Scheherazade insisted upon marrying the 
king, and did actually marry him despite her father's ex- 
cellent advice not to do any thing of the kind — when she 
would and did marry him, I say, will I nill I, it was with 
her beautiful black eyes as thoroughly open as the nature 
of the case would allow. 

It seems, however, that this politic damsel (who had 
been reading Machiavelli, beyond doubt), had a very in- 
genious little plot in her mind. On the night of the 
wedding, she contrived, upon I forget what specious pre- 
tence, to have her sister occupy a couch sufficiently near 
that of the royal pair to admit of easy conversation from 
bed to bed ; and, a little before cock-crowing, she took 
care to awaken the good monarch, her husband (who bore 
her none the worse will because he intended to wring her 
neck on the morrow), — she managed to awaken him, I say, 
(although on account of a capital conscience and an easy 
digestion, he slept well,) by the profound interest of a 
story (about a rat and a black cat, I think) which she was 
narrating (all in an undertone, of course) to her sister. 
When the day broke, it so happened that this history was 
not altogether finished, and that Scheherazade, in the 
nature of things could not finish it just then, since it was 
high time for her to get up and be bowstrung — a thing 
very little more pleasant than hanging, only a trifle more 
genteel ! 

The king's curiosity, however, prevailing, I am sorry to 



IO/6 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

say, even over his sound religious principles, induced him 
for this once to postpone the fulfilment of his vow until 
next morning, for the purpose and with the hope of hear- 
ing that night how it fared in the end with the black cat 
(a black cat, I think it was) and the rat. 

The night having arrived, however, the lady Schehera- 
zade not only put the finishing stroke to the black cat and 
the rat (the rat was blue) but before she well knew what 
she was about, found herself deep in the intricacies of a 
narration, having reference (if I am not altogether mis- 
taken) to a pink horse (with green wings) that went, in a 
violent manner, by clockwork, and was wound up with an 
indigo key. With this history the king was even more 
profoundly interested than with the other — and, as the 
day broke before its conclusion (notwithstanding all the 
queen's endeavors to get through with it in time for the 
bowstringing), there was again no resource but to post- 
pone that ceremony as before, for twenty-four hours. 
The next night there happened a similar accident with a 
similar result ; and then the next — and then again the 
next ; so that, in the end, the good monarch, having been 
unavoidably deprived of all opportunity to keep his vow 
during a period of no less than one thousand and one 
nights, either forgets it altogether by the expiration of 
this time, or gets himself absolved of it in the regular way, 
or (what is more probable) breaks it outright, as well as the 
head of his father confessor. At all events, Scheherazade, 
who, being lineally descended from Eve, fell heir, per- 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 1 97 

haps, to the whole seven baskets of talk, which the latter 
lady, we all know, picked up from under the trees in the 
garden of Eden ; Scheherazade, I say, finally triumphed, 
and the tariff upon beauty was repealed. 

Now, this conclusion (which is that of the story as we 
have it upon record) is, no doubt, excessively proper and 
pleasant — but alas ! like a great many pleasant things, is 
more pleasant than true ; and I am indebted altogether 
to the " Isitsoornot " for the means of correcting the error. 
"Le mieux" says a French proverb, "est Vennemi du 
Men" and, in mentioning that Scheherazade had inherited 
the seven baskets of talk, I should have added that she 
put them out at compound interest until they amounted 
to seventy-seven. 

" My dear sister," said she, on the thousand-and-second 
night, (I quote the language of the " Isitsoornot " at this 
point, verbatim) " my dear sister," said she, " now that all 
this little difficulty about the bowstring has blown over, 
and that this odious tax is so happily repealed, I feel that 
I have been guilty of great indiscretion in withholding 
from you and the king (who, I am sorry to say, snores — 
a thing no gentleman would do) the full conclusion of 
Sinbad the sailor. This person went through numerous 
other and more interesting adventures than those which I 
related ; but the truth is, I felt sleepy on the particular 
night of their narration, and so was seduced into cutting 
them short — a grievous piece of misconduct, for which I 
only trust that Allah will forgive me. But even yet it is 



I9» THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

not too late to remedy my great neglect — and as soon as 
I have given the king a pinch or two in order to wake 
him up so far that he may stop making that horrible 
noise, I will forthwith entertain you (and him if he 
pleases) with the sequel of this very remarkable story." 

Hereupon the sister of Scheherazade, as I have it from 
the " Isitsoornot," expressed no very particular intensity 
of gratification; but the king, having been sufficiently 
pinched, at length ceased snoring, and finally said, 
" Hum ! " and then " Hoo ! " when the queen, understand- 
ing these words (which are no doubt Arabic) to signify that 
he was all attention, and would do his best not to snore 
any more — the queen, I say, having arranged these mat- 
ters to her satisfaction, re-entered thus, at once, into the 
history of Sinbad the sailor : 

" i At length, in my old age,' (these are the words of 
Sinbad himself, as retailed by Scheherazade) — l at length, 
in my old age, and after enjoying many years of tranquil- 
ity at home, I became once more possessed of a desire of 
visiting foreign countries ; and one day, without acquaint- 
ing any of my family with my design, I packed up some 
bundles of such merchandise as was most precious and 
least bulky, and, engaging a porter to carry them, went 
with him down to the sea-shore, to await the arrival of 
any chance vessel that might convey me out of the king- 
dom into some region which I had not as yet explored. 

" * Having deposited the packages upon the sands, we 
sat down beneath some trees, and looked out into the 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 1 99 

ocean in the hope of perceiving a ship, but during several 
hours we saw none whatever. At length I fancied that I 
could hear a singular buzzing or humming sound — and 
the porter, after listening awhile, declared that he also 
could distinguish it. Presently it grew louder, and then 
still louder, so that we could have no doubt that the ob- 
ject which caused it was approaching us. At length, on 
the edge of the horizon, we discovered a black speck, 
which rapidly increased in size until we made it out to be 
a vast monster, swimming with a great part of its body 
above the surface of the sea. It came toward us with 
inconceivable swiftness, throwing up huge waves of foam 
around its breast, and illuminating all that part of the sea 
through which it passed, with a long line of fire that ex- 
tended far off into the distance. 

" * As the thing drew near we saw it very distinctly. Its 
length was equal to that of three of the loftiest trees that 
grow, and it was as wide as the great hall of audience in 
your palace, O most sublime and munificent of the caliphs. 
Its body, which was unlike that of ordinary fishes, was as 
solid as a rock, and of a jetty blackness throughout all 
that portion of it which floated above the water, with the 
exception of a narrow blood-red streak that completely 
begirdled it. The belly, which floated beneath the sur- 
face, and of which we could get only a glimpse now and 
then as the monster rose and fell with the billows, was 
entirely covered with metallic scales, of a color like that of 
the moon in misty weather. The back was flat and 



200 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

nearly white, and from it there extended upwards of six 
spines, about half the length of the whole body. 

" * This horrible creature had no mouth that we could 
perceive ; but, as if to make up for this deficiency, it was 
provided with at least four score of eyes, that protruded 
from their sockets like those of the green dragon-fly, and 
were arranged all around the body in two rows, one above 
the other, and parallel to the blood-red streak, which 
seemed to answer the purpose of an eyebrow. Two or 
three of these dreadful eyes were much larger than the 
others, and had the appearance of solid gold. 

" ' Although this beast approached us, as I have before 
said, with the greatest rapidity, it .must have been moved 
altogether by necromancy — for it had neither fins like a 
fish nor web-feet like a duck, nor wings like the sea-shell 
which is blown along in the manner of a vessel ; nor yet 
did it writhe itself forward as do the eels. Its head and 
its tail were shaped precisely alike, only, not far from the 
latter, were two small holes that served for nostrils, and 
through which the monster puffed out its thick breath 
with prodigious violence, and with a shrieking, disagree- 
able noise. 

u ' Our terror at beholding this hideous thing was very 
great, but it was even surpassed by our astonishment, 
when upon getting a nearer look, we perceived upon the 
creature's back a vast number of animals about the size 
and shape of men, and altogether much resembling them, 
except that they wore no garments (as men do), being 



THE THO USA ND-AND- SECOND TALE. 201 

supplied (by nature, no doubt,) with an ugly uncomfort- 
able covering, a good deal like cloth, but fitting so tight 
to the skin, as to render the poor wretches laughably 
awkward, and put them apparently to severe pain. On the 
very tips of their heads were certain square-looking boxes, 
which, at first sight, I thought might have been intended 
to answer as turbans, but I soon discovered that they 
were excessively heavy and solid, and I therefore con- 
cluded they were contrivances designed, by their great 
weight, to keep the heads of the animals steady and safe 
upon their shoulders. Around the necks of the creatures 
were fastened black collars, (badges of servitude, no 
doubt,) such as we keep on our dogs, only much wider 
and infinitely stiffer — so that it was quite impossible for 
these poor victims to move their heads in any direction 
without moving the body at the same time ; and thus 
they were doomed to perpetual contemplation of their 
noses — a view puggish and snubby in a wonderful if not 
positively in an awful degree. 

" ' When the monster had nearly reached the shore 
where we stood, it suddenly pushed out one of its eyes to 
a great extent, and emitted from it a terrible flash of fire, 
accompanied by a dense cloud of smoke, and a noise that 
I can compare to nothing but thunder. As the smoke 
cleared away, we saw one of the odd man-animals stand- 
ing near the head of the large beast with a trumpet in his 
hand, through which (putting it to his mouth) he presently 
addressed us in loud, harsh, and disagreeable accents, that, 



202 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

perhaps, we should have mistaken for language, had they 
not come altogether through the nose. 

" ' Being thus evidently spoken to, I was at a loss how 
to reply, as I could in no manner understand what was 
said ; and in this difficulty I turned to the porter, who 
was near swooning through affright, and demanded of him 
his opinion as to what species of monster it was, what it 
wanted, and what kind of creatures those were that so 
swarmed upon its back. To this the porter replied, as 
well as he could for trepidation, that he had once before 
heard of this sea-beast ; that it was a cruel demon, with 
bowels of sulphur and blood of fire, created by evil genii 
as the means of inflicting misery upon mankind ; that the 
things upon its back were vermin, such as sometimes 
infest cats and dogs, only a little larger and more savage ; 
and that these vermin had their uses, however evil — for, 
through the torture they caused the beast by their nib- 
blings and stingings, it was goaded into that degree of 
wrath which was requisite to make it roar and commit ill, 
and so fulfil the vengeful and malicious designs of the 
wicked genii. 

" ' This account determined me to take to my heels, 
and, without once even looking behind me, I ran at full 
speed up into the hills, while the porter ran equally fast, 
although nearly in an opposite direction, so that, by these 
means, he finally made his escape with my bundles, of 
which I have no doubt he took excellent care — although 
this is a point I cannot determine, as I do not remember 
that I ever beheld him again. 






THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 203 

" l For myself, I was so hotly pursued by a swarm of 
the men-vermin (who had come to the shore in boats) 
that I was very soon overtaken, bound hand and foot, 
and conveyed to the beast, which immediately swam out 
again into* the middle of the sea. 

" ' I now bitterly repented my folly in quitting a com- 
fortable home to peril my life in such adventures as this ; 
but regret being useless, I made the best of my condition, 
and exerted myself to secure the good-will of the man- 
animal that owned the trumpet, and who appeared to 
exercise authority over his fellows. I succeeded so well 
in this endeavor that, in a few days, the creature bestowed 
upon me various tokens of his favor, and in the end even 
went to the trouble of teaching me the rudiments of what 
it was vain enough to denominate its language ; so that, 
at length, I was enabled to converse with it readily, and 
came to make it comprehend the ardent desire I had of 
seeing the world. 

" ' Was his h squashish squeak, Sinbad, hey-diddle diddle, 
grunt unt grumble, hiss, fiss, zuhiss,' said he to me, one day 
after dinner — but I beg a thousand pardons, I had for- 
gotten that your majesty is not conversant with the dia- 
lect of the Cock-neighs (so the man-animals were called ; 
I presume because their language formed the connecting 
link between that of the horse and that of the rooster). 
With your permission, I will translate. ' Washish squash- 
ish; and so forth : — that is to say, ' I am happy to find, 
my dear Sinbad, that you are really a very excellent 



204 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

fellow ; we are now about doing a thing which is called 
circumnavigating the globe ; and since you are so desirous 
of seeing the world, I will strain a point and give you a 
free passage upon the back of the beast.' " 

When the Lady Scheherazade had proceeded thus far, 
relates the " Isitsoornot," the king turned over from his 
left side to his right, and said : 

" It is, in fact, very surprising, my dear queen, that you 
omitted, hitherto, these latter adventures of Sinbad. Do 
you know I think them exceedingly entertaining and 
strange?" 

The king having thus expressed himself, we are told, 
the fair Scheherazade resumed her history in the fol- 
lowing words: 

" Sinbad went on in this manner with his narrative — ' I 
thanked the man-animal for its kindness, and soon found 
myself very much at home on the beast, which swam at 
a prodigious rate through the ocean ; although the sur- 
face of the latter is, in that part of the world, by no means 
flat, but round like a pomegranate, so that we went — so 
to say — either up hill or down hill all the time.' " 

"That, I think, was very singular," interrupted the king. 

"Nevertheless, it is quite true," replied Scheherazade. 

" I have my doubts," rejoined the king; "but, pray, be 
so good as to go on with the story." 

" I will," said the queen. " 'The beast,' continued Sin- 
bad, ' swam, as I have related, up hill and down hill, until, 
at length, we arrived at an island, many hundreds of miles 



I 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 205 

in circumference, but which, nevertheless, had been built 
in the middle of the sea by a colony of little things like 
caterpillars.' " * 

" Hum ! " said the king. 

" ' Leaving this island,' said Sinbad — (for Scheherazade, 
it must be understood, took no notice of her husband's 
ill-mannered ejaculation) — ' leaving this island, we came 
to another where the forests were of solid stone, and so 
hard that they shivered to pieces the finest-tempered axes 
with which we endeavored to cut them down.' "f 

* The coralites. 

f ' ' One of the most remarkable natural curiosities in Texas is a petrified 
forest, near the head of Pasigno river. It consists of several hundred trees, 
in an erect position, all turned to stone. Some trees, now growing, are partly 
petrified. This is a startling fact for natural philosophers, and must cause 
them to modify the existing theory of petrifaction." — Kennedy. 

This account, at first discredited, has since been corroborated by the dis- 
covery of a completely petrified forest, near the head waters of the Chey- 
enne, or Chienne river, which has its source in the Black Hills of the rocky 
chain. 

There is scarcely, perhaps, a spectacle on the surface of the globe more 
remarkable, either in a geological or picturesque point of view, than that 
presented by the petrified forest, near Cairo. The traveller, having passed 
the tombs of the caliphs, just beyond the gates of the city, proceeds to the 
southward, nearly at right angles to the road across the desert to Suez, and 
after having travelled some ten miles up a low barren valley, covered with 
sand, gravel, and sea shells, fresh as if the tide had retired but yesterday, 
crosses a low range of sandhills, which has for some distance run parallel to 
his path. The scene now presented to him is beyond conception singular 
and desolate. A mass of fragments of trees, all converted into stone, and 
when struck by his horse's hoof ringing like cast iron, is seen to extend itself 
for miles and miles around him, in the form of a decayed and prostrate for- 
est. The wood is of a dark brown hue, but retains its form in perfection, 
the pieces being from one to fifteen feet in length, and from half a foot to 
three feet in thickness, strewed so closely together, as far as the eye can 



206 THE TIJOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

11 Hum ! " said the king, again ; but Scheherazade, pay- 
ing him no attention, continued in the language of Sin- 
bad. 

" ' Passing beyond this last island, we reached a coun- 
try where there was a cave that ran to the distance of 
thirty or forty miles within the bowels of the earth, and 
that contained a greater number of far more spacious 
and more magnificent palaces than are to be found in all 
Damascus and Bagdad. From the roofs of these palaces 
there hung myriads of gems, like diamonds, but larger 
than men ; and in among the streets of towers and pyra- 
mids and temples, there flowed immense rivers as black 
as ebony, and swarming with fish that had no eyes.' " * 

" Hum ! " said the king. 

" * We then swam into a region of the sea where we 
found a lofty mountain, down whose sides there streamed 
torrents of melted metal, some of which were twelve miles 
wide and sixty miles long ; f while from an abyss on the 
summit, issued so vast a quantity of ashes that the sun 
was entirely blotted out from the heavens, and it became 



reach, that an Egyptian donkey can scarcely thread its way through amongst 
them, and so natural that, were it in Scotland or Ireland, it might pass with- 
out remark for some enormous drained bog, on which the exhumed trees lay 
rotting in the sun. The roots and rudiments of the branches are, in many 
cases, nearly perfect, and in some the worm-holes eaten under the bark are 
readily recognizable. The most delicate of the sap vessels, and all the finer 
portions of the centre of the wood, are perfectly entire, and bear to be ex- 
amined with the strongest magnifiers. The whole are so thoroughly silicified 
as to scratch glass and are capable of receiving the highest polish. — Asiatic 
Magazine. 

* The Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. 

fin Iceland, 1783. 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 207 

darker than the darkest midnight ; so that when we were 
even at the distance of a hundred and fifty miles from 
the mountain, it was impossible to see the whitest object, 
however close we held it to our eyes.' " * 

" Hum ! " said the king. 

" ' After quitting this coast, the beast continued his 
voyage until we met with a land in which the nature of 
things seemed reversed — for we here saw a great lake, at 
the bottom of which, more than a hundred feet beneath 
the surface of the water, there flourished in full leaf a 
forest of tall and luxuriant trees. ' " f 

" Hoo ! " said the king. 

" ' Some hundred miles farther on brought us to a cli- 
mate where the atmosphere was so dense as to sustain 
iron or steel, just as our own does feather.' " \ 

* " During the eruption of Hecla, in 1766, clouds of this kind produced 
such a degree of darkness that, at Glaumba, which is more than fifty leagues 
from the mountain, people could only find their way by groping. During 
the eruption of Vesuvius, in 1794, at Caserta, four leagues distant, people 
could only walk by the light of torches. On the first of May, 1812, a cloud 
of volcanic ashes and sand, coming from a volcano in the island of St. Vin- 
cent, covered the whole of Barbadoes, spreading over it so intense a dark- 
ness that, at mid-day, in the open air, one could not perceive the trees or 
other objects near him, or even a white handkerchief placed at the distance 
of six inches from the eye." — Murray, p. 215, Phil. edit. 

f " In the year 1790, in the Caraccas during an earthquake a portion of 
the granite soil sank and left a lake eight hundred yards in diameter, and 
from eighty to a hundred feet deep. It was a part of the forest of Aripao 
which sank, and the trees remained green for several months under the 
water." — Murray, p. 221. 

% The hardest steel ever manufactured may, under the action of a blow- 
pipe, be reduced to an impalpable powder, which will float readily in the 
atmospheric air. 



208 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

" Fiddle de dee," said the king. 

" ' Proceeding still in the same direction, we presently 
arrived at the most magnificent region in the whole world. 
Through it there meandered a glorious river for several 
thousands of miles. This river was of unspeakable depth, 
and of a transparency richer than that of amber. It was 
from three to six miles in width ; and its banks which 
arose on either side to twelve hundred feet in perpendic- 
ular height, were crowned with ever-blossoming trees, and 
perpetual sweet-scented flowers, that made the whole ter- 
ritory one gorgeous garden ; but the name of this luxu- 
riant land was the Kingdom of Horror, and to enter it 
was inevitable death.' " * 

" Humph ! " said the king. 

" ' We left this kingdom in great haste, and, after some 
days, came to another, where we were astonished to per- 
ceive myriads of monstrous animals with horns resembling 
scythes upon their heads. These hideous beasts dig for 
themselves vast caverns in the soil, of a funnel shape, 
and line the sides of them with rocks, so disposed one 
upon the other that they fall instantly, when trodden 
upon by other animals, thus precipitating them into the 
monster's dens, where their blood is immediately sucked, 
and their carcasses afterwards hurled contemptuously out 
to an immense distance from "the caverns of death." ' " f 

* The region of the Niger. See Simmona's " Colonial Magazine." 
f The Mynndeon — lion-ant. The term "monster" is equally applicable 
to small abnormal things and to great, while such epithets as "vast " are 
merely comparative. The cavern of the myrmeleon is vast in comparison 
with the hole of the common red ant. A grain of silex is also a " rock." 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 209 

" Pooh ! " said the king. 

" ' Continuing our progress, we perceived a district 
with vegetables that grew not upon any soil, but in the 
air. * There were others that sprang from the substance 
of other vegetables ; f others that derived their substance 
from the bodies of living animals ; % and then again, 
there were others that glowed all over with intense fire ; § 
others that moved from place to place at pleasure, || and 
what was still more wonderful, we discovered flowers that 
lived and breathed and moved their limbs at will, and 
had, moreover, the detestable passion of mankind for en- 
slaving other creatures, and confining them in horrid and 
solitary prisons until the fulfilment of appointed tasks.' " - J 

* The Epidendron* Flos Aeris, of the family of the Orchidece, grows with 
merely the surface of its roots attached to a tree or other object, from which 
it derives no nutriment — subsisting altogether upon air. 

f The Parasites, such as the wonderful Rafflesia Arnaldii. 

% Schouw advocates a class of plants that grow upon living animals — the 
Plantce Epizoce. Of this class are the Fuci and Algce. 

Mr. J. B. Williams, of Salem, Mass., presented the "National Institute," 
with an insect from New Zealand, with the following description: — " ''The 
Hotte' a decided caterpillar, or worm, is found growing at the foot of the 
Rata tree, with a plant growing out of its head. This most peculiar and 
most extraordinary insect travels up both the Rata and Perriri trees, and 
entering into the top, eats its way, perforating the trunk of the tree until it 
reaches the root, it then comes out of the root, and dies, or remains dor- 
mant, and the plant propagates out of its head ; the body remains perfect 
and entire, of a harder substance then when alive. From this insect the 
natives make a coloring for tattooing." 

§ In mines and natural caves we find a species of cryptogamous fungus that 
emtts an intense phosphorescence. 

I The orchis, scabius and valisneria. 

\ "The corolla of this flower (Aristolochia Clematitis), which is tubular, 



I 



2IO THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

" Pshaw ! " said the king. 

" ' Quitting this land, we soon arrived at another in which 
the bees and the birds are mathematicians of such genius 
and erudition, that they give daily instructions in the 
science of geometry to the wise men of the empire. The 
king of the place having offered a reward for the solution 
of two very difficult problems, they were solved upon 
the spot — the one by the bees, and the other by the 
birds ; but the king keeping their solution a secret, it was 
only after the most profound researches and labor, and 
the writing of an infinity of big books, during a long series 
of years, that the men-mathematicians at length arrived at 
the identical solutions which had been given upon the 
spot by the bees and by the birds.' " * 

but terminating upwards in a ligulate limb, is inflated into a globular figure 
at the base. The tubular part is internally beset with stiff hairs, pointing 
downwards. The globular part contains the pistil, which consists merely of 
a germen and stigma, together with the surrounding stamens. But the sta- 
mens, being shorter than even the germen, cannot discharge the pollen so as 
to throw it upon the stigma, as the flower stands always upright till after 
impregnation. And hence, without some additional and peculiar aid, the 
pollen must necessarily fall down to the bottom of the flower. Now, the 
aid that nature has furnished in this case, is that of the Tiputa Petmicornis 
a small insect, which entering the tube of the corrolla in quest of honey, de- 
scends to the bottom, and rummages about till it becomes quite covered with 
pollen ; but, not being able to force its way out again, owing to the down- 
ward position of the hairs, which converge to a point like the wires of a 
mouse-trap, and being somewhat impatient of its confinement it brushes 
backwards and forwards, trying every corner, till, after repeatedly traversing 
the stigma, it covers it with pollen sufficient for its impregnation, in con- 
sequence of which the flower soon begins to droop, and the hairs to shrink to 
the side of the tube, effecting an easy passage for the escape of the insect." 
— Rev. P. Keith — System of Physiological Botany. 

* The bees — ever since bees were — have been constructing their cells with 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 211 

"Oh my!" said the king. 
<We nad scarcely lost sight of this empire when we 
found ourselves close upon another, from whose shores 
there flew over our heads a flock of fowls a mile in breadth, 
and two hundred and forty miles long ; so that, although 
they flew a mile during every minute, it required no less 

than four hours for the whole flock to pass over us in 

which there were several millions of millions of fowl.' " * 

" Oh fy ! " said the king. 

" ' No sooner had we got rid of these birds, which 
occasioned us great annoyance, than we were terrified by 
the appearance of a fowl of another kind, and infinitely 
larger than even the rocs which I met in my former 
voyages ; for it was bigger than the biggest of the domes 

just such sides, in just such number, and at just such inclinations, as it has 
been demonstrated (in a problem involving the profoundest mathematical 
principles) are the very sides, in the very number, and at the very angles, 
which will afford the creatures the most room that is compatible with the 
greatest stability of structure. 

During the latter part of the last century, the question arose among math- 
ematicians — ' ' to determine the best form that can be given to the sails of a 
windmill, according to their varying distances from the revolving vanes, and 
likewise from the centres of the revolution." This is an excessively complex 
problem, for it is, in other words, to find the best possible position at an 
infinity of varied distances, and at an infinity of points on the arm. There 
were a thousand futile attempts to answer the query on the part of the most 
illustrious mathematicians ; and when, at length, an undeniable solution was 
discovered, men found that the wings of a bird had given it with absolute 
precision ever since the first bird had traversed the air. 

* He observed a flock of pigeons passing betwixt Frankfort and the 
Indiana territory, one mile at least in breadth ; it took up four hours in 
passing ; which, at the rate of one mile per minute, gives a length of 240 
miles ; and, supposing three pigeons to each square yard, gives 2,230,272,000 
pigeons.— " Travels in Canada and the United States" by Lieut. F. Hall. 



212 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

on your seraglio, oh, most Munificent of Caliphs. This 
terrible fowl had no head that we could perceive, but was 
fashioned entirely of belly, which was of a prodigious fat- 
ness and roundness, of a soft-looking substance, smooth, 
shining and striped with various colors. In its talons, the 
monster was bearing away to his eyrie in the heavens, 
a house from which it had knocked off the roof, and in the 
interior of which we distinctly saw human beings, who, be- 
yond doubt, were in a state of frightful despair at the hor- 
rible fate which awaited them. We shouted with all our 
might, in the hope of frightening the bird into letting go 
of its prey ; but it merely gave a snort or puff, as if of 
rage and then let fall upon our heads a heavy sack which 
proved to be filled with sand ! ' " 

" Stuff I " said the king. 

" ' It was just after this adventure that we encountered 
a continent of immense extent and prodigious solidity, 
but which, nevertheless, was supported entirely upon the 
back of a sky-blue cow that had no fewer than four 
hundred horns.' " * 

il T/iat, now, I believe," said the king, " because I have 
read something of the kind before, in a book." 

" ' We passed immediately beneath this continent, 
(swimming in between the legs of the cow, and, after 
some hours, found ourselves in a wonderful country in- 
deed, which, I was informed by the man-animal, was his 

* ' ' The earth is upheld by a cow of a blue color, having horns four hundred 
in number." — Sale's Koran. 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 213 

own native land, inhabited by things of his own species. 
This elevated the man-animal very much in my esteem, 
and in fact, I now began to feel ashamed of the con- 
temptuous familiarity with which I had treated him ; for 
I found that the man-animals in general were a nation of 
the most powerful magicians, who lived with worms 
in their brain,* which, no doubt, served to stimulate 
them by their painful writhings and wrigglings to the 
most miraculous efforts of imagination.' " 

" Nonsense ! " said the king. 

" ' Among the magicians, were domesticated several 
animals of very singular kinds ; for example, there was a 
huge horse whose bones were iron and whose blood was 
boiling water. In place of corn, he had black stones for 
his usual food ; and yet, in spite of so hard a diet, he was 
so strong and swift that he could drag a load more 
weighty than the grandest temple in this city, at a rate 
surpassing that of the flight of most birds.' "f 

" Twattle ! " said the king. 

" 1 1 saw, also, among these people a hen without feath- 
ers, but bigger than a camel ; instead of flesh and bone 
she had iron and brick ; her blood, like that of the horse, 
(to whom, in fact, she was nearly related,) was boiling 
water ; and like him she ate nothing but wood or black 

♦"The Entozoa, or intestinal worms, have repeatedly been observed in 
the muscles, and in the cerebral substance of men." — See Wyatts Physi- 
ology, p. 143. 

+ On the great Western Railway, between London and Exeter, a speed 
of 71 miles per hour has been attained. A train weighing 90 tons was 
whirled from Puddington to Didcot (53 miles,) in 51 minutes. 



214 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

stones. This hen brought forth very frequently, a hun- 
dred chickens in the day ; and, after birth, they took up 
their residence for several weeks within the stomach of 
their mother.' " * 

" Fal lal ! " said the king. 

" * One of this nation of mighty conjurors created a man 
out of brass and wood, and leather, and endowed him 
with such ingenuity that he would have beaten at chess, 
all the race of mankind with the exception of the great 
Caliph, Haroun Alraschid.f Another of these magi con- 
structed (of like material) a creature that put to shame 
even the genius of him who made it ; for so great were its 
reasoning powers that, in a second, it performed calcula- 
tions of so vast an extent that they would have required 
the united labor of fifty thousand fleshy men for a year. % 
But a still more wonderful conjuror fashioned for himself 
a mighty thing that was neither man nor beast, but which 
had brains of lead, intermixed with a black matter like 
pitch, and fingers that employed with such incredible 
speed and dexterity that it would have had no trouble in 
writing out twenty thousand copies of the Koran in an 
hour ; and this with so exquisite a precision, that in all 
the copies there should not be found one to vary from 
another by the breadth of the finest hair. This thing was 
of prodigious strength, so that it erected or overthrew the 

* The Eccalobeion. 

f Maelzel's Automaton Chess-player. 

% Babbage's Calculating Machine. 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 21 5 

mightiest empires at a breath ; but its powers were exer- 
cised equally for evil and for good.' " 

" Ridiculous ! " said the king. 

" * Among this nation of necromancers there was also 
one who had in his veins the blood of the salamanders ; 
for he made no scruple of sitting down to smoke his 
chibouc in a red-hot oven until his dinner was thoroughly- 
roasted upon its floor.* Another had the faculty of con- 
verting the common metals into gold, without even look- 
ing at them during the process. \ Another had such a 
delicacy of touch that he made a wire so fine as to be in- 
visible. % Another had such quickness of perception that 
he counted all the separate motions of an elastic body, 
while it was springing backward and forward at the rate 
of nine hundred millions of times in a second.' " § 

" Absurd ! " said the king. 

" ' Another of these magicians, by means of a fluid that 
nobody ever yet saw, could make the corpses of his 
friends brandish their arms, kick out their legs, fight, or 
even get up and dance at his will. || Another had culti- 
vated his voice to so great an extent that he could have 
made himself heard from one end of the world to the 

* Chaberl, and since him, a hundred others. 

f The Electrotype. 

\ Wollaston made of platinum for the field of views in a telescope a 
wire one eighteen-thousandth part of an inch in thickness. It could be seen 
only by means of the microscope. 

§ Newton demonstrated that the retina beneath the influence of the violet 
ray of the spectrum, vibrated 900,000,000 of times in a second. 

I The Voltaic pile. . 



2l6 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

other.* Another had so long an arm that he could sit 
down in Damascus and indite a letter at Bagdad — or 
indeed at any distance whatsoever.f Another com- 
manded the lightning to come down to him out of the 
heavens, and it came at his call; and served him for a 
plaything when it came. Another took two loud sounds 
and out of them made a silence. Another constructed a 
deep darkness out of two brilliant lights.^ Another made 
ice in a red-hot furnace. § Another directed the sun to 
paint his portrait, and the sun did. | Another took this 
luminary with the moon and the planets, and having first 
weighed them with scrupulous accuracy, probed into their 

* The Electro Telegraph Printing Apparatus. 

f The Electro Telegraph transmits intelligence instantaneously — at least 
so far as regards any distance upon the earth. 

\ Common experiments in Natural Philosophy. If two red rays from two 
luminous points be admitted into a dark chamber so as to fall on a white 
surface, and differ in their length by 0.0000258 of an inch, their intensity is 
doubled. So also if the difference in length be any whole-number multiple 
of that fraction. A multiple by 2 J, 3 J, &c. , gives an intensity equal to one 
ray only ; but a multiple by 2^, 3^, &c, gives the result of total darkness. 
In violet rays similar effects arise when the difference in length is 0.000157 
of an inch ; and with all other rays the results are the same — the difference 
varying with a uniform increase from the violet to the red. 

Analogous experiments in respect to sound produce analogous results. 

§ Place a platina crucible over a spirit lamp, and keep it a red heat ; pour 
in some sulphuric acid, which, though the most volatile of bodies at a com- 
mon temperature, will be found to become completely fixed in a hot cruci- 
ble, and not a drop evaporates — being surrounded by an atmosphere of its 
own,. it does not, in fact, touch the sides. A few drops of water are now 
introduced, when the acid, immediately coming in contact with the heated 
sides of the crucible, flies off in sulphurous acid vapor, and so rapid is its 
progress, that the caloric of the water passes off with it, which falls a lump 
of ice to the bottom ; by taking advantage of the moment before it is 
allowed to re-melt, it may be turned out a lump of ice from a red-hot vessel. 

|| The Daguerreotype. 



THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 21 7 

depths and found out the solidity of the substance of 
which they are made. But the whole nation is, indeed, 
of so surprising a necromantic ability, that not even their 
infants, nor their commonest cats and dogs have any 
difficulty in seeing objects that do not exist at all, or that 
for twenty millions of years before the birth of the nation 
itself had been blotted out from the face of creation.' " * 

" Preposterous ! " said the king. 

" ' The wives and daughters of these incomparably 
great and wise magi/ " continued Scheherazade, without 
being in any manner disturbed by these frequent and 
most ungentlemanly interruptions on the part of her hus- 
band — " ' the wives and daughters of these eminent con- 
jurers are every thing that is accomplished and refined ; 
and would be everything that is interesting and beautiful, 
but for an unhappy fatality that besets them, and from 
which not even the miraculous powers of their husbands 
and fathers has, hitherto, been adequate to save. Some 
fatalities come in certain shapes, and some in others — but 
this of which I speak has come in the shape of a crotchet.' " 

* Although light travels 167,000 miles in a second, the distance of 61 
Cygni (the only star whose distance is ascertained) is so inconceivably great, 
that its rays would require more than ten years to reach the earth. For 
stars beyond this, 20 — or even 1000 years — would be a moderate estimate. 
Thus, if they had been annihilated 20, or 1000 years ago, we might still see 
them to-day by the light which started from their surfaces 20 or 1000 years 
in the past time. That many which we see daily are really extinct, is not 
impossible — not even improbable. 

The elder Herschel maintains that the light of the faintest nebulae seen 
irough his grea,t telescope must have taken 3,000,000 years in reaching the 
earth. Some, made visible by Lord Ross' instrument, must, then, have re- 
mired at least 20,000,000. 



2l8 THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE. 

" A what ? " said the king. 

M ' A crotchet,' " said Scheherazade. " ' One of the evil 
genii, who are perpetually upon the watch to inflict ill, 
has put it into the heads of these accomplished ladies 
that the thing which we describe as personal beauty con- 
sists altogether in the protuberance of the region which 
lies not very far below the small of the back. Perfection 
of loveliness, they say, is in the direct ratio of the extent 
of this lump. Having been long possessed of this idea, 
and bolsters being cheap in that country, the days have 
long gone by since it was possible to distinguish a woman 
from a dromedary 

" Stop ! " said the king — " I can't stand that, and I 
won't. You have already given me a dreadful headache 
with your lies. The day, too, I perceive, is beginning to 
break. How long have we been married ? my con- 
science is getting to be troublesome again. And then 
that dromedary touch — do you take me for a fool ? Upon 
the whole, you might as well get up and be throttled." 

These words, as I learn from the "Isitsoornot," both 
grieved and astonished Scheherazade ; but, as she knew 
the king to be a man of scrupulous integrity, and quite 
unlikely to forfeit his word, she submitted to her fate with 
a good grace. She derived, however, great consolation, 
(during the tightening of the bowstring,) from the reflec- 
tion that much of the history remained still untold, and 
that the petulance of her brute of a husband had reaped 
for him a most righteous reward, in depriving him of many 
inconceivable adventures. 




MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 



Qui n'a plus qu'un moment a vivre 

N 'a plus rien a dissimuler. Quinaull — Atys. 

OF my country and of my family I have little to say. 
Ill usage and length of years have driven me from 
the one, and estranged me from the other. Hereditary 
wealth afforded me an education of no common order, 
and a contemplative turn of mind enabled me to methodise 
the stores which early study diligently garnered up. Be- 
yond all things, the works of the German moralists gave 
me great delight ; not from my ill-advised admiration of 
their eloquent madness, but from the ease with which my 
habits of rigid thoughts enabled me to detect their falsi- 
ties. I have often been reproached with the aridity of my 
genius ; a deficiency of imagination has been imputed to 
me as a crime ; and the Pyrrhonism of my opinions has at 
all times rendered me notorious. Indeed, a strong relish 
for physical philosophy has, I fear, tinctured my mind with 
a very common error of this age — I mean the habit of 
referring occurrences, even the least susceptible of such 
reference, to the principles of that science. Upon the 

219 



220 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

whole, no person could be less liable than myself to be 
led away from the severe precincts of truth by the ignes 
fatui of superstition. I have thought proper to premise 
thus much, lest the incredible tale I have to tell should 
be considered rather the raving of a crude imagination, 
than the positive experience of a mind to which the rev- 
eries of fancy have been a dead letter and a nullity. 

After many years spent in foreign travel, I sailed in the 
year 18 — , from the port of Batavia, in the rich and popu- 
lous island of Java, on a voyage to the Archipelago 
Islands. I went as passenger — having no other induce- 
ment than a kind of nervous restlessness which haunted 
me as a fiend. 

Our vessel was a beautiful ship of about four hundred 
tons, copper-fastened, and built at Bombay of Malabar 
teak. She was freighted with cotton-wool and oil, from 
the Lachadive Islands. We had also on board coir, jag- 
geree, ghee, cocoanuts, and a few cases of opium. The 
stowage was clumsily done, and the vessel consequently 
crank. 

We got under way with a mere breath of wind, and for 
many days stood along the eastern coast of Java, without 
any other incident to beguile the monotony of our course 
than the occasional meeting with some of the small grabs 
of the Archipelago to which we were bound. 

One evening, leaning over the taffrail, I observed a very 
singular isolated cloud, to the N. W. It was remarkable, as 
well from its color as from its being the first we had seen 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 221 

since our departure from Batavia. I watched it attentively 
until sunset; when it spread all at once to the eastward and 
westward, girting in the horizon with a narrow strip of va- 
por, and looking like a long line of low beach. My notice 
was soon afterward attracted by the dusky-red appearance 
of the moon, and the peculiar character of the sea. The 
latter was undergoing a rapid change, and the water 
seemed more than usually transparent. Although I could 
distinctly see the bottom, yet, heaving the lead, I found 
the ship in fifteen fathoms. The air now became intoler- 
ably hot, and was loaded with spiral exhalations similar 
to those arising from heated iron. As night came on, 
every breath of wind died away, and a more entire calm it 
is impossible to conceive. The flame of a candle burned 
upon the poop without the least perceptible motion, and 
a long hair, held between the finger and thumb, hung 
without the possibility of detecting a vibration. How- 
ever, as the captain said he could perceive no indication 
of danger, and as we were drifting in bodily to shore, 
he ordered the sails to be furled, and the anchor let go. 
No watch was set, and the crew, consisting principally of 
Malays, stretched themselves deliberately upon deck. I 
went below — not without a full presentiment of evil. In- 
deed, every appearance warranted me in apprehending a 
Simoon. I told the captain of my fears ; but he paid no 
attention to what I said, and left me without deigning to 
give a reply. My uneasiness, however, prevented me 
from sleeping, and about midnight I went upon deck. 



222 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

As I placed my foot upon the upper step of the com- 
panion-ladder, I was startled by a loud, humming noise, 
like that occasioned by the rapid revolution of a mill- 
wheel, and before I could ascertain its meaning, I found 
the ship quivering to its centre. In the next instant a 
wilderness of foam hurled us upon our beam-ends, and, 
rushing over us fore and aft, swept the entire decks from 
stem to stern. 

The extreme fury of the blast proved, in a great meas- 
ure, the salvation of the ship. Although completely 
water-logged, yet, as her masts had gone by the board, 
she rose, after a minute, heavily from the sea, and, stag- 
gering awhile beneath the immense pressure of the tem- 
pest, finally righted. 

By what miracle I escaped destruction, it is impossible 
to say. Stunned by the shock of the water, I found my- 
self, upon recovery, jammed in between the stern-post 
and rudder. With great difficulty I regained my feet, 
and looking dizzily around, was at first struck with the 
idea of our being among breakers ; so terrific, beyond the 
wildest imagination, was the whirlpool of mountainous 
and foaming ocean within which we were engulfed. After 
a while I heard the voice of an old Swede, who had 
shipped with us at the moment of leaving port. I hal 
looed to him with all my strength, and presently he came 
reeling aft. We soon discovered that we were the sole 
survivors of the accident. All on deck, with the excep- 
tion of ourselves, had been swept overboard ; the captain 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 223 

and mates must have perished while they slept, for the 
cabins were deluged with water. Without assistance we 
could expect to do little for the security of the ship, and 
our exertions were at first paralyzed by the momentary 
expectation of going down. Our cable had, of course, 
parted like pack-thread, at the first breath of the hurri- 
cane, or we should have been instantaneously over- 
whelmed. We scudded with frightful velocity before the 
sea, and the water made clear breaches over us. The frame- 
work of our stern was shattered excessively, and, in almost 
every respect, we had received considerable injury ; but 
to our extreme joy we found the pumps unchoked, and 
that we had made no great shifting of our ballast. The 
main fury of the blast had already blown over, and we 
apprehended little danger from the violence of the wind ; 
but we looked forward to its total cessation with dismay ; 
well believing, that in our shattered condition, we should 
inevitably perish in the tremendous swell which would en- 
sue. But this very just apprehension seemed by no 
means likely to be soon verified. For five entire days 
and nights — during which our only subsistence was a 
small quantity of jaggeree, procured with great difficulty 
from the forecastle — the hulk flew at a rate defying com- 
putation, before rapidly succeeding flaws of wind, which, 
without equalling the first violence of the Simoon, were 
still more terrific than any tempest I had before encount- 
ered. Our course for the first four days was, with trifling 
variations, S. E. and by S. ; and we must have run down 



224 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

the coast of New Holland. On the fifth day the cold be- 
came extreme, although the wind had hauled round a 
point more to the northward. The sun arose with a 
sickly yellow lustre, and clambered a very few degrees 
above the horizon — emitting no decisive light. There 
were no clouds- apparent, yet the wind was upon the in- 
crease, and blew with a fitful and unsteady fury. About 
noon, as nearly as we could guess, our attention was again 
arrested by the appearance of the sun. It gave out no 
light, properly so called, but a dull and sullen glow with- 
out reflection, as if all its rays were polarized. Just be- 
fore sinking within the turgid sea, its central fires sud- 
denly went out, as if hurriedly extinguished by some un- 
accountable power. It was a dim, silver-like rim, alone, 
as it rushed down the unfathomable ocean. 

We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day — 
that day to me has not yet arrived — to the Swede never 
did arrive. Thenceforward we were enshrouded in pitchy 
darkness, so that we could not have seen an object at 
twenty paces from the ship. Eternal night continued to 
envelope us, all unrelieved by the phosphoric sea-brilliancy 
to which we had been accustomed in the tropics. We 
r observed, too, that, although the tempest continued to 
rage with unabated violence, there was no longer to be 
discovered the usual appearance of surf, or foam, which 
had hitherto attended us. All around were horror, and 
thick gloom, and a black sweltering desert of ebony. 
Superstitious terror crept by degrees into the spirit of the 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 225 

old Swede, and my own soul was wrapt in silent wonder. 
We neglected all care of the ship, as worse than useless, 
and securing ourselves as well as possible, to the stump 
of the mizen-mast, looked out bitterly into the world of 
ocean. We had no means of calculating time, nor could 
we form any guess of our situation. We were, however, 
well aware of having made farther to the southward than 
any previous navigators, and felt great amazement at not 
meeting with the usual impediments of ice. In the mean- 
time every moment threatened to be our last — every 
mountainous billow hurried to overwhelm us. The swell 
surpassed anything I had imagined possible, and that we 
were not instantly buried is a miracle. My companion 
spoke of the lightness of our cargo, and reminded me of 
the excellent qualities of our ship ; but I could not help 
feeling the utter hopelessness of hope itself, and prepared 
myself gloomily for that death which I thought nothing 
could defer beyond an hour, as, with every knot of way 
the ship made, the swelling of the black stupendous seas 
became more dismally appalling. At times we gasped for 
breath at an elevation beyond the albatross — at times be- 
came dizzy with the velocity of our descent into some 
watery hell, where the air grew stagnant, and no sound 
disturbed the slumbers of the kraken. 

We were at the bottom of one of these abysses, when a 
quick scream from my companion broke fearfully upon 
the night. " See ! see ! " cried he, shrieking in my ears, 
" Almighty God ! see ! see ! " As he spoke I became aware 



226 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

of a dull sullen glare of red light which streamed down 
the sides of the vast chasm where we lay, and threw a fit- 
ful brilliancy upon our deck. Casting my eyes upwards, 
I beheld a spectacle which froze the current of my blood. 
At a terrific height directly above us, and upon the very 
verge of the precipitous descent, hovered a gigantic ship, 
of perhaps four thousand tons. Although upreared upon 
the summit of a wave more than a hundred times her 
own altitude, her apparent size still exceeded that of any 
ship of the line or East Indianman in existence. Her 
huge hull was of a deep dingy black, unrelieved by any 
of the customary carvings of a ship. A single row of 
brass cannon protruded from her open ports, and dashed 
from the polished surfaces the fires of innumerable battle- 
lanterns which swung to and fro about her rigging. But 
what mainly inspired us with horror and astonishment, 
was that she bore up under a press of sail in the very 
teeth of that supernatural sea, and of that ungovernable 
hurricane. When we first discovered her, her bows were 
alone to be seen, as she rose slowly from the dim and 
horrible gulf beyond her. For a moment of intense terror 
she paused upon the giddy pinnacle as if in contemplation 
of her own sublimity, then trembled, and tottered, and — 
came down. 

At this instant, I know not what sudden self-possession 
came over my spirit. Staggering as far aft as I could, I 
awaited fearlessly the ruin that was to overwhelm. Our 
own vessel was at length ceasing from her struggles, and 



• MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 227 

sinking with her head to the sea. The shock of the de- 
scending mass struck her, consequently in that portion of 
her frame which was nearly under water, and the inevit- 
able result was to hurl me, with irresistible violence, upon 
the rigging of the stranger. 

As I fell, the ship hove in stays, and went about ; and 
to the confusion ensuing I attributed my escape from the 
notice of the crew. With little difficulty I made my way, 
unperceived, to the main hatchway, which was partially 
open, and soon found an opportunity of secreting myself 
in the hold. Why I did so I can hardly tell. An indef- 
inite sense of awe, which at first sight of the navigators of 
the ship had taken hold of my mind, was perhaps the 
principle of my concealment. I was unwilling to trust 
myself with a race of people who had offered, to the 
cursory glance I had taken, so many points of vague 
novelty, doubt, and apprehension. I therefore thought 
proper to contrive a hiding-place in the hold. This I did 
by removing a small portion of the shifting-boards, in 
such a manner as to afford me a convenient retreat be- 
tween the huge timbers of the ship. 

I had scarcely completed my work, when a footstep in 
the hold forced me to make use of it. A man passed by 
my place of concealment with a feeble and unsteady gait. 
I could not see his face, but had an opportunity of ob- 
serving his general appearance. There was about it an 
evidence of great age and infirmity. His knees tottered 
beneath a load of years, and his entire frame quivered 



228 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

under the burthen. He muttered to himself, in a low 
broken tone, some words of a language which I could not 
understand, and groped in a corner among a pile of singu- 
lar-looking instruments, and decayed charts of navigation. 
His manner was a wild mixture of the peevishness of 
second childhood, and the solemn dignity of a God. He at 
length went on deck, and I saw him no more. 

* * * * * 

A feeling, for which I have no name, has taken posses- 
sion of my soul— a sensation which will admit of no anal- 
ysis, to which the lessons of by-gone time are inadequate, 
and for which I fear futurity itself will offer me no key. 
To a mind constituted like my own, the latter considera- 
tion is an evil. I shall never — I know that I shall never 
— be satisfied with regard to the nature of my conceptions. 
Yet it is not wonderful that these conceptions are indef- 
inite, since they have their origin in sources so utterly 
novel. A new sense — a new entity is added to my soul. 
***** 

It is long since I first trod the deck of this terrible ship, 
and the rays of my destiny are, I think, gathering to a 
focus. Incomprehensible men ! Wrapped up in medita- 
tions of a kind which I cannot divine, they pass me by 
unnoticed. Concealment is utter folly on my part, for 
the people will not see. It is but just now that I passed 
directly before the eyes of the mate ; it was no long while 
ago that I ventured into the captain's own private cabin, 
and took thence the materials with which I write, and 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 229 

ve written. I shall from time to time continue this 
journal. It is true that I may not find an opportunity of 
transmitting it to the world, but I will not fail to make 
the endeavor. At the last moment I will enclose the MS. 
in a bottle, and cast it within the sea. ^ 

* •* * * # 

An incident has occurred which has given me new room 
for meditation. Are such things the operation of ungov- 
erned chance? I had ventured upon deck and thrown 
myself down, without attracting any notice, among a pile 
of ratlin-stuff and old sails, in the bottom of the yawl. 
While musing upon the singularity of my fate, I unwit- 
tingly daubed with a tar-brush the edges of a neatly-folded 
studding-sail which lay near me on a barrel. The stud- 
ding-sail is now bent upon the ship, and the thoughtless 
touches of the brush are spread out into the word DIS- 
COVERY. 

I have made my observations lately upon the structure 
of the vessel. Although well armed, she is not, I think, 
a ship of war. Her rigging, build, and general equipment, 
all negative a supposition of this kind. What she is not, 
I can easily perceive ; what she is, I fear it is impossible 
t to say. I know not how it is, but in scrutinizing her strange 
model and singular cast of spars, her huge size and over- 
grown suits of canvass, her severely simple bow and anti- 
quated stern, there will occasionally flash across my mind 
a sensation of familiar things, and there is always mixed 
up with such indistinct shadows of recollection, an unac- 



230 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

countable memory of old foreign chronicles and ages long 
ago. * # * 

I have been looking at the timbers of the ship. She is 
built of a material to which I am a stranger. There is a § 
peculiar character about the wood which strikes me as 
rendering it unfit for the purpose to which it has been 
applied. I mean its extreme porousness, considered inde- 
pendently of the worm-eaten condition which is a conse- 
quence of navigation in these seas, and apart from the 
rottenness attendant upon age. It will appear perhaps 
an observation somewhat over-curious, but this would 
have every characteristic of Spanish oak, if Spanish oak 
were distended by any unnatural means. 

In reading the above sentence, a curious apothegm of 
an old weather-beaten Dutch navigator comes full upon 
my recollection. " It is as sure," he was wont to say, 
when any doubt was entertained of his veracity, " as sure 
as there is a sea where the ship itself will grow in bulk 
like the living body of the seaman." * * * 

About an hour ago, I made bold to trust myself among 
a group of the crew. They paid me no manner of atten- 
tion, and, although I stood in the very midst of them all, 
seemed utterly unconscious of my presence. Like the 
one I had at first seen in the hold, they all bore about 
them the marks of a hoary old age. Their knees trembled 
with infirmity; their shoulders were bent double with 
decrepitude ; their shrivelled skins rattled in the wind ; 
their voices were low, tremulous, and broken ; their eyes 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 23 1 

glistened with the rheum of years ; and their gray hairs 
streamed terribly in the tempest. Around them, on every 
part of the deck, lay scattered mathematical instruments of 
the most quaint and obsolete construction. * * * 

I mentioned, some time ago, the bending of a studding- 
sail. From that period, the ship, being thrown dead off 
the wind, has continued her terrific course due south, with 
every rag of canvas packed upon her, from her truck to 
her lower studding-sail booms, and rolling every moment 
her top-gallant yard-arms into the most appalling hell of 
water which it can enter into the mind of man to imagine. 
I have just left the deck, where I find it impossible to 
maintain a footing, although the crew seem to experience 
little inconvenience. It appears to me a miracle of mira- 
cles that our enormous bulk is not swallowed up at once 
and forever. We are surely doomed to hover continually 
upon the brink of eternity, without taking a final plunge 
into the abyss. From billows a thousand times more 
stupendous than any I have ever seen, we glide away with 
the facility of the arrowy sea-gull ; and the colossal waters 
rear their heads above us like demons of the deep, but 
like demons confined to simple threats, and forbidden to 
destroy. I am led to attribute these frequent escapes to 
the only natural cause which can account for such effect. ■ 
I must suppose the ship to be within the influence of 
some strong current, or impetuous under-tow. * * * 

I have seen the captain face to face, and in his own 
ibin — but, as I expected, he paid me no attention. 



232 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

Although in his appearance there is, to a casual observer, 
nothing which might bespeak him more or less than man, 
still, a feeling of irrepressible reverence and awe mingled 
with the sensation of wonder with which I regarded him. 
In stature, he is nearly my own height ; that is, about five 
feet eight inches. He is of a well-knit and compact frame 
of body, neither robust nor remarkable otherwise. But it 
is the singularity of the expression which reigns upon th< 
face — it is the intense, the wonderful, the thrilling evi- 
dence of old age so utter, so extreme, which excites with- 
in my spirit a sense — a sentiment ineffable. His fon 
head, although little wrinkled, seems to bear upon it th< 
stamp of a myriad of years. His gray hairs are records oi 
the past, and his grayer eyes are sybils of the future. Th( 
cabin floor was thickly strewn with strange, iron-claspe< 
folios, and mouldering instruments of science, and obsolete 
long-forgotten charts. His head was bowed down upoi 
his hands, and he pored, with a fiery, unquiet eye, over 
paper which I took to be a commission, and which, at all 
events, bore the signature of a monarch. He murmured t< 
himself — as did the first seaman whom I saw in the hol< 
— some low peevish syllables of a foreign tongue ; and al- 
though the speaker was close at my elbow, his voice seemed 
to reach my ears from the distance of a mile. * * * 
The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld. 
The crew glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried centu- 
ries ; their eyes have an eager and uneasy meaning ; and 
when their fingers fall athwart my path in the wild glare 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 233 

of the battle-lanterns, I feel as I have never felt before, 
although I have been all my life a dealer in antiquities, 
and have imbibed the shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, 
and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my very soul has be- 
come a ruin. * * * 

When I look around me, I feel ashamed of my former 
apprehension. If I trembled at the blast which has 
hitherto attended us, shall I not stand aghast at a warring 
of wind and ocean, to convey any idea of which, the words 
tornado and simoon are trivial and ineffective? All in 
the immediate vicinity of the ship, is the blackness of 
eternal night, and a chaos of foamless water ; but, about a 
league on. either side of us, may be seen, indistinctly and 
at intervals, stupendous ramparts of ice, towering away 
into the desolate sky, and looking like the walls of the 
universe. * * * 

As I imagined, the ship proves to be in a current — if 
that appellation can properly be given to a tide which, 
howling and shrieking by the white ice, thunders on to 
the southward with a velocity like the headlong dashing 
of a cataract. * * * 

To conceive the horror of my sensations is, I presume, 
utterly impossible ; yet a curiosity to penetrate the mys- 
teries of these awful regions, predominates even over my 
despair, and will reconcile me to the most hideous aspect 
of death. It is evident that we are hurrying onward to 
some exciting knowledge — some never-to-be-imparted 
secret, whose attainment is destruction. Perhaps this 



234 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE. 

current leads us to the southern pole itself. It must be 
confessed that a supposition apparently so wild has every 
probability in its favor. * * * 

The crew pace the deck with unquiet and tremulous 
step ; but there is upon their countenance and expression 
more of the eagerness of hope than of the apathy of 
despair. 

In the meantime the wind is still in our poop, and, as 
we carry a crowd of canvas, the ship is at times lifted 
bodily from out the sea ! Oh, horror upon horror ! — the 
ice opens suddenly to the right, and to the left, and we 
are whirling dizzily, in immense concentric circles, round 
and round the borders of a gigantic amphitheatre, the 
summit of whose walls is lost in the darkness and the 
distance. But little time will be left me to ponder upon 
my destiny! The circles rapidly grow small — we are 
plunging madly within the grasp of the whirlpool — and 
amid a roaring, and bellowing, and thundering of ocean 

and tempest, the ship is quivering — oh God ! and going 

down ! 

Note. — The "MS. Found in a Bottle," was originally published in 
1 83 1, and it was not until many years afterward that I became acquainted 
with the maps of Mercator, in which the ocean is represented as rushing, by 
four mouths into the (northern) Polar Gulf, to be absorbed into the bowels 
of the earth ; the Pole itself being represented by a black rock, towering to 
a prodigious height. 




A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 



The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as our ways ; nor 
are the models that we frame in any way commensurate to the vastness, 
profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, which have a depth in them 
greater than the well of Democritus. 

— Joseph Glanville. 

T T 7E had now reached the summit of the loftiest 
V V crag. For some minutes the old man seemed 
too much exhausted to speak. 

"Not long ago," said he at length, "and I could have 
guided you on this route as well as the youngest of my 
sons ; but, about three years past, there happened to me 
an event such as never happened before to mortal man — 
or at least such as no man ever survived to tell of — and 
the sixjiours of deadly terror which I then endured have 
broken me up body and soul. You suppose me a very 
old man — but I am not. It took less than a single day 
to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to 
weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I 
tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a 
shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this 
little cliff without getting giddy? " 

235 



236 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

The " little cliff," upon whose edge he had so carelessly 
thrown himself down to rest that the weightier portion of 
his body hung over it, while he was only kept from falling 
by the tenure of his elbow on its extreme and slippery 
edge — this "little cliff" arose, a sheer unobstructed preci- 
pice of black shining rock, some fifteen or sixteen hundred 
feet from the world of crags beneath us. Nothing would 
have tempted me to be within half a dozen yards of its 
brink. In truth so deeply was I excited by the perilous 
position of my companion, that I fell at full length upon 
the ground, clung to the shrubs around me, and dared nol 
even glance upward at the sky — while I struggled in vain 
to divest myself of the idea that the very foundations of 
the mountain were in danger from the fury of the wind* 
It was long before I could reason myself into sufficient 
courage to sit up and look out into the distance. 

"You must get over these fancies," said the guide, 
" for I have brought you here that you might have the 
best possible view of the scene of that event I mentioned 
— and to tell you the whole story with the spot just 
under your eye." 

" We are now," he continued, in that particularizing 
manner which distinguished him-" we are now close 
upon the Norwegian coast — in the sixty-eighth degree of 
latitude — in the great province of Nordland — and in the 
dreary district of Lofoden. The mountain upon whose 
top we sit is Helseggen, the Cloudy. Now raise yourself 
up a little higher — hold on to the grass if you feel giddy 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 237 

— so — and look out, beyond the belt of vapor beneath us, 
into the sea." 

I looked dizzily, and beheld a wide expanse of ocean, 
whose waters wore so inky a hue as to bring at once to 
my mind the Nubian geographer's account of the Mare 
Tenebrarum. A panorama more deplorably desolate no 
human imagination can conceive. To the right and left, 
as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like 
ramparts of the world, lines of horridly black and beetling 
cliff, whose character of gloom was but the more forcibly 
illustrated by the surf which reared high up against it its 
white and ghastly crest, howling and shrieking for ever. 
Just opposite the promontory upon whose apex we were 
placed, and at a distance of some five or six miles out at 
sea, there was visible a small, bleak-looking island ; or, 
more properly, its position was discernible through the 
wilderness of surge in which it was enveloped. About 
two miles nearer the land, arose another of smaller size, 
hideously craggy and barren, and encompassed at various 
intervals by a cluster of dark rocks. 

The appearance of the ocean, in the space between the 
more distant island and the shore, .had something very 
unusual about it. Although, at the time, so strong a gale 
was blowing landward that a brig in the remote offing 
lay to under a double-reefed trysail, and constantly 
plunged her whole hull out of sight, still there was here 
nothing like a regular swell, but only a short, quick, 
angry cross dashing of water in every direction — as well 



238 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

in the teeth of the wind as otherwise. Of foam there was 
little except in the immediate vicinity of the rocks. 

" The island in the distance," resumed the old man, " is 
called by the Norwegians Vurrgh. The one midway is 
Moskoe. That a mile to the northward is Ambaaren. 
Yonder are Islesen, Hotholm, Keildhelm, Suarven, and 
Buckholm. Further off — between Moskoe and Vurrgh — 
are Otterholm, Flimen, Sandflesen, and Stockholm. These 
are the true names of the places — but why it has been 
thought necessary to name them at all, is more than either 
you or I can understand. Do you hear any thing? Do 
you see any change in the water?" 

We had now been about ten minutes upon the top of 
Helseggen, to which we had ascended from the interior of 
Lofoden, so that we had caught no glimpse of the sea un- 
til it had burst upon us from the summit. As the old 
man spoke, I became aware of a loud and gradually in- 
creasing sound, like the moaning of a vast herd of buf- 
faloes upon an American prairie ; and at the same mo- 
ment I perceived that what seamen term the chopping 
character of the ocean beneath us, was rapidly changing 
into a current which set to the eastward. Even while I 
gazed, this current acquired a monstrous velocity. Each 
moment added to its speed — to its headlong impetuosity. 
In five minutes the whole sea, as far as Vurrgh, was 
lashed into ungovernable fury ; but it was between Mos- 
koe and the coast that the main uproar held its sway. 
Here the vast bed of the waters, seamed and scarred into 






A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 239 

a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into 
phrensied convulsion — heaving, boiling, hissing — gyrating 
in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling and 
plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water 
never elsewhere assumes, except in precipitous descents. 

In a few minutes more, there came over the scene an- 
other radical alteration. The general surface grew some- 
what more smooth, and the whirlpools, one by one, dis- 
appeared, while prodigious streaks of foam became 
apparent where none had been seen before. These 
streaks, at length, spreading out to a great distance, and 
entering into combination, took unto themselves the gyra- 
tory motion of the subsided vortices, and seemed to form 
the germ of another more vast. Suddenly — very sud- 
denly — this assumed a distinct and definite existence, in a 
circle of more than a mile in diameter. The edge of the 
whirl was represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray ; 
but no particle of this slipped into the mouth of the 
terrific funnel, whose interior, as far as the eye could 
fathom it, was a smooth, shining, and jet-black wall of 
water, inclined to the horizon at an angle of some forty- 
five degrees, speeding dizzily round and round with a 
swaying and sweltering motion, and sending forth to the 
winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as not 
even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its 
agony to Heaven. 

The mountain trembled to its very base, and the rock 
rocked. I threw myself upon my face, and clung to the 
scant herbage in an excess of nervous agitation. 



24O A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM, 

" This," said I at length, to the old man — u this can be 
nothing else than the great whirlpool of the Maelstrom." 

" So it is sometimes termed," said he. " We Norwe- 
gians call it the Moskoe-strom, from the island of Moskoe 
in the midway." 

The ordinary account of this vortex had by no means 
prepared me for what I saw. That of Jonas Ramus, 
which is perhaps the most circumstantial of any, cannot 
impart the faintest conception either of th^aia^mficence, 
or of the horror of the scene — or of the wild bewildering 
sense of the novel which confounds the beholder. I am 
not sure from what point of view the writer in question 
surveyed it, nor at what time ; but it could neither have 
been from the summit of Helseggen, nor during a storm. 
There are some passages of his description, neverthe- 
less, which may be quoted for their details, although 
their effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an im- 
pression of the spectacle. 

" Between Lofoden and Moskoe," he says, "the depth 
of the water is between thirty-six and forty fathoms ; 
but on the other side, toward Ver (Vurrgh) this depth 
decreases so as not to afford a convenient passage for 
a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks, 
which happens even in the calmest weather. When it 
is flood, the stream runs up the country between Lo- 
foden and Moskoe with a boisterous rapidity ; but the 
roar of its impetuous ebb to the sea is scarce equalled 
by the loudest and most dreadful cataracts ; the noise 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 24 1 

being heard several leagues off, and the vortices or pits 
are of such an extent and depth, that if a ship comes 
within its attraction, it is inevitably absorbed and car- 
ried down to the bottom, and there beat to pieces 
against the rocks; and when the water relaxes, the 
fragments thereof are thrown up again. But these in- 
tervals of tranquility are only at the turn of the ebb 
and flood, and in calm weather, and last but a quarter 
of an hour, its violence gradually returning. When the 
stream is most boisterous, and its fury heightened by a 
storm, it is dangerous to come within a Norway mile 
of it. Boats, yachts, and ships have been carried away 
by not guarding against it before they were carried 
within its reach. It likewise happens frequently, that 
whales come too near the stream, and are overpowered 
by its violence ; and then it is impossible to describe 
their howlings and bellowings in their fruitless strug- 
gles to disengage themselves. A bear once, attempting 
to swim from Lofoden to Moskoe, was caught by the 
stream and borne down, while he roared terribly, so as 
to be heard on shore. Large stocks of firs and pine 
trees, after being absorbed by the current, rise again 
broken and torn to such a degree as if bristles grew 
upon them. This plainly shows the "bottom to consist 
of craggy rocks, among which they are whirled to and 
fro. This stream is regulated by the flux and reflux 
of the sea — it being constantly high and low water 
every six hours. In the year 1645, early in the morn- 



242 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTKOM. 

ing of Sexagesima Sunday, it raged with such noise 
and impetuosity that the very stones of the houses on 
the coast fell to the ground." 

In regard to the depth of the water, I could not see 
how this could have been ascertained at all in the imme- 
diate vicinity of the vortex. The " forty fathoms " must 
have reference only to portions of the channel close upon 
the shore either of Moskoe or Lofoden. The depth in 
the centre of the Moskoe-strom must be unmeasurably 
greater ; and no better proof of this fact is necessary than 
can be obtained from even the sidelong glance into the 
abyss of the whirl which may be had from the highest 
crag of Helseggen. Looking down from this pinnacle 
upon the howling Phlegethon below, I could not help 
smiling at the simplicity with which the honest Jonas 
Ramus records, as a matter difficult of belief, the anec- 
dotes of the whales and the bears, for it appeared to me, 
in fact, a self-evident thing, that the largest ships of the 
line in existence, coming within the influence of that 
deadly attraction, could resist it as little as a feather the 
hurricane, and must disappear bodily and at once. 

The attempts to account for the phenomenon — some of 
which I remember, seemed to me sufficiently plausible in 
perusal — now wore a very different and unsatisfactory 
aspect. The idea generally received is that this, as well 
as three smaller vortices among the Ferroe Islands, " have 
no other cause than the collision of waves rising and 
falling, at flux and reflux, against a ridge of rocks and 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 243 

shelves, which confines the water so that it precipitates it- 
self like a cataract ; and thus the higher the flood rises, the 
deeper must the fall be, and the natural result of all is a 
whirlpool or vortex, the prodigious suction of which is 
sufficiently known by lesser experiments." — These are the 
words of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Kircher and 
others imagine that in the centre of the channel of the 
Maelstrom is an abyss penetrating the globe, and issuing 
in some very remote part — the Gulf of Bothnia being 
somewhat decidedly named in one instance. This opinion, 
idle in itself, was the one to which, as I gazed, my imagin - 
tion most readily assented ; and, mentioning it to the 
guide, I was rather surprised to hear him say that, al- 
though it was the view almost universally entertained of 
the subject by the Norwegians, it nevertheless was not his 
own. As to the former notion he confessed his inability 
to comprehend it ; and here I agreed with him — for, how- 
ever conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelli- 
gible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss. 

" You have had a good look at the whirl now," said the 
old man, " and if you will creep round this crag, so as to 
get in its lee, and deaden the roar of the water, I will tell 
you a story that will convince you I ought to know somen 
thing of the Moskoe-strom." 

I placed myself as desired, and he proceeded. 

" Myself and my two brothers once owned a schooner- 
rigged smack of about seventy tons burthen, with which 
we were in the habit of fishing among the islands beyond 



244 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

Moskoe, nearly to Vurrgh. In all violent eddies at sea 
there is good fishing, at proper opportunities, if one has 
only the courage to attempt it ; but among the whole of 
the Lofoden coastmen, we three were the only ones who 
made a regular business of going out to the islands, as I 
tell you. The usual grounds are a great way lower down 
to the southward. There fish can be got at all hours, 
without much risk, and therefore these places are pre- 
ferred. The choice spots over here among the rocks, how- 
ever, not only yield the finest variety, but in far greater 
abundance ; so that we often got in a single day, what the 
more timid of the craft could not scrape together in a 
week. In fact, we made it a matter of desperate specula- 
tion — the risk of life standing instead of labor, and courage 
answering for capital. 

" We kept the smack in a cove about five miles higher 
up the coast than this ; and it was our practice, in fine 
weather, to take advantage of the fifteen minutes' slack to 
push across the main channel of the Moskoe-strom, far 
above the pool, and then drop down upon anchorage 
somewhere near Otterholm, or Sandflesen, where the ed- 
dies are not so violent as elsewhere. Here we used to re- 
main until nearly time for slack-water again, when we 
weighed and made for home. We never set out upon this 
expedition without a steady side wind for going and com- 
ing — one that we felt sure would not fail us before our 
return — and we seldom made a mis-calculation upon this 
point. Twice, during six years, we were forced to stay all 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 245 

night at anchor on account of a dead calm, which is a rare 
thing indeed just about here ; and once we had to remain 
on the grounds nearly a week, starving to death, owing 
to a gale which blew up shortly after our arrival, and made 
the channel too boisterous to be thought of. Upon this 
occasion we should have been driven out to sea in spite of 
every thing, (for the whirlpools threw us round and round 
so violently, that, at length, we fouled our anchor and 
dragged it) if it had not been that we drifted into one of 
the innumerable cross currents — here to-day and gone to- 
morrow — which drove us under the lee of Flimen, where, 
by good luck, we brought up. 

" I could not tell you the twentieth part of the difficul- 
ties we encountered ' on the ground '—it is a bad spot to 
be in, even in good weather — but we make shift always 
to run the gauntlet of the Moskoe-strom itself without 
accident ; although at times my heart has been in my 
mouth when we happened to be a minute or so behind or 
before the slack. The wind sometimes was not as strong 
as we thought it at starting, and then we made rather less 
way than we could wish, while the current rendered the 
smack unmanageable. My eldest brother had a son 
eighteen j^ears old, and I had two stout boys of my own. 
These would have been of great assistance at such times, 
in using the sweeps as well as afterward in fishing — but, 
somehow, although we ran the risk ourselves, we had not 
the heart to let the young ones get into the danger — for, 
after all said and done, it was a horrible danger, and that 
is the truth. 



246 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

u It is now within a few days of three years since what 
I am going to tell you occurred. It was on the tenth of 
July, 18 — , a day which the people of this part of the 
world will never forget — for it was one in which blew the 
most terrible hurricane that ever came out of the heavens. 
And yet all the morning, and indeed until late in the after- 
noon, there was a gentle and steady breeze from the south- 
west, while the sun shone brightly, so that the oldest 
seaman among us could not have foreseen what was to 
follow. 

" The three of us — my two brothers and myself — had 
crossed over to the islands about two o'clock P. M., and 
soon nearly loaded the smack with fine fish, which, we all 
remarked, were more plenty that day than we had ever 
known them. It was just seven, by my watch, when we 
weighed and started for home, so as to make the worst of 
the Strom at slack water, which we knew would be at 
eight. 

" We set out with a fresh wind on our starboard 
quarter, and for some time spanked along at a great rate, 
never dreaming of danger, for indeed we saw not the 
slightest reason to apprehend it. All at once we were 
taken aback by a breeze from over Helsegen. This was 
most unusual — something that had never happened to us 
before — and I began to feel a little uneasy, without ex- 
actly knowing why. We put the boat on the wind, but 
could make no headway at all for the eddies, and I was 
upon the point of proposing to return to the anchorage, 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 247 

when, looking astern, we saw the whole horizon covered 
with a singular copper-colored cloud that rose with the 
most amazing velocity. 

" In the meantime the breeze that had headed us off 
fell away and we were dead becalmed, drifting about in 
every direction. This state of things, however, did not 
last long enough to give us time to think about it. In 
less than a minute the storm was upon us — in less than 
two the sky was entirely overcast — and what with this and 
the driving spray, it became suddenly so dark that we 
could not see each other in the smack. 

V Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt 
describing. The oldest seaman in Norway never experi- 
enced any thing like it. We had let our sails go by the 
run before it cleverly took us ; but, at the first puff, both 
our masts went by the board as if they had been sawed 
off — the mainmast taking with it my youngest brother, 
who had lashed himself to it for safety. 

" Our boat was the lightest feather of a thing that ever 
sat upon water. It had a complete flush deck, with only 
a small hatch near the bow, and this hatch it had always 
been our custom to batten down when about to cross the 
Strom, by way of precaution against the chopping seas. 
But for this circumstance we should have foundered at 
once — for we lay entirely buried for some moments. 
How my elder brother escaped destruction I cannot say, 
for I never had an opportunity of ascertaining. For my 
part, as soon as I had let the foresail run, I threw myself 



248 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

flat on deck, with my feet against the narrow gunwale of 
the bow, and with my hands grasping a ring-bolt near the 
foot of the foremast. It was mere instinct that prompted 
me to do this — which was undoubtedly the very "best 
thing I could have done — for I was too much flurried to 
think. 

" For some moments we were completely deluged, as I 
say, and all this time I held my breath, and clung to the 
bolt. When I could stand it no longer I raised myself 
upon my knees, still keeping hold with my hands, and 
thus got my head clear. Presently our little boat gave 
herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the 
water, and thus rid herself, in some measure, of the seas. 
I was now trying to get the better of the stupor that had 
come over me, and to collect my senses so as to see what 
was to be done, when I felt somebody grasp my arm. It 
was my elder brother, and my heart leaped for joy, for I 
had made sure that he was overboard — but the next 
moment all this joy was turned into horror — for he put 
his mouth close to my ear, and screamed out the word 
1 Moskoe-strom ! ' 

" No one ever will know what my feelings were at that 
moment. I shook from head to foot as if I had had the 
most violent fit of the ague. I knew what he meant by 
that one word well enough — I knew what he wished to 
make me understand. With the wind that now drove us 
on, we were bound for the whirl of the Strom, and 
nothing could save us ! 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 249 

" You perceive that in crossing the Strom channel, we 
always went a long way up above the whirl, even in the 
calmest weather, and then had to wait and watch care- 
fully for the slack — but now we were driving right upon 
the pool itself, and in such a hurricane as this ! ■ To be 
sure,' I thought, ' we shall get there just about the slack 
— there is some little hope in that ' — but in the next 
moment I cursed myself for being so great a fool as 
to dream of hope at all. I knew very well that we were 
doomed, had we been ten times a ninety-gun ship. 

" By this time the first fury of the tempest had spent 
itself, or perhaps we did not feel it so much, as we 
scudded before it, but at all events the seas, which at 
first had been kept down by the wind, and lay flat and 
frothing, now got up into absolute mountains. A singular 
change, too, had come over the heavens. Around in 
every direction it was still as black as pitch, but nearly 
overhead there burst out, all at once, a circular rift of 
clear sky — as clear as I ever saw — and of a deep bright 
blue — and through it there blazed forth the full moon 
with a lustre that I never before knew her to wear. She 
lit up every thing about us with the greatest distinctness 
— but, oh God, what a scene it was to light up ! 

u I now made one or two attempts to speak to my 
brother — but in some manner which I could not under- 
stand, the din had so increased that I could not make him 
hear a single word, although I screamed at the top of my 
voice in his ear. Presently he shook his head, looking as 



250 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

pale as death, and held up one of his fingers, as if to say 
' listen ! ' 

"At first I could not make out what he meant — but 
soon a hideous thought flashed upon me. I dragged my 
watch from its fob. It was not going. I glanced at its face 
by the moonlight, and then burst into tears as I flung it 
far away into the ocean. // had run down at seven 
o'clock / We were behind the time of the slack, and tlie 
whirl of the Strom was in full fury / 

" When a boat is well built, properly trimmed, and not 
deep laden, the waves in a strong gale, when she is going 
large, seem always to slip from beneath her — which 
appears strange to a landsman — and this is what is called 
riding, in sea phrase. 

" Well, so far we had ridden the swells very cleverly ; 
but presently a gigantic sea happened to take us right 
under the counter, and bore us with it as it rose — up — up 
— as if into the sky. I would not have believed that any 
wave could rise so high. And then down we came with 
a sweep, a slide, and a plunge that made me feel sick and 
dizzy, as if I was falling from some lofty mountain-top in 
a dream. But while we were up I had thrown a quick 
glance around — and that one glance was all-sufficient. I 
saw our exact position in an instant. The Moskoe-strom 
whirlpool was about a quarter of a mile dead ahead — but 
no more like the every-day Moskoe-strom than the whirl, 
as you now see it, is like a mill-race. If I had not known 
where we were, and what we had to expect, I should not 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 25 I 

have recognized the place at all. As it was, I involun- 
tarily closed my eyes in horror. The lids clenched them- 
selves together as if in a spasm. 

" It could not have been more than two minutes after- 
wards until we suddenly felt the waves subside, and were 
enveloped in foam. The boat made a sharp half turn to 
larboard, and then shot off in its new direction like a 
thunderbolt. At the same moment the roaring noise of 
the water was completely drowned in a kind of shrill 
shriek — such a sound as you might imagine given out by 
the water-pipes of many thousand steam-vessels letting 
off their steam all together. We were now in the belt of 
surf that always surrounds the whirl ; and I thought, of 
course, that another moment would plunge us into the 
abyss, down which we could only see indistinctly on 
account of the amazing velocity with which we were 
borne along. The boat did not seem to sink into the 
water at all, but to skim like an air-bubble upon the sur- 
face of the surge. Her starboard side was next the whirl, 
and on the larboard arose the world of ocean we had left. 
It stood like a huge writhing wall between us and the 
horizon. 

" It may appear strange, but now, when we were in the 
very jaws of the gulf, I felt more composed than when 
we were only approaching it. Having made up my mind 
to hope no more, I got rid of a great deal of that terror 
which unmanned me at first. I supposed it was despair 
that strung my nerves. 



252 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

" It may look like boasting — but what I tell you is 
truth — I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it was 
to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in me to 
think of so paltry a consideration as my own individual 
life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation of God's 
power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when 
this idea crossed my mind. After a little while I became 
possessed with the keenest curiosity about the whirl 
itself. I positively felt a wish to explore its depths, even 
at the sacrifice I was going to make ; and my principal 
grief was that I should never be able to tell my old com- 
panions on shore about the mysteries I should see. 
These, no doubt, were singular fancies to occupy a man's 
mind in such extremity — and I have often thought since, 
that the revolutions of the boat around the pool might 
have rendered me a little light-headed. 

" There was another circumstance which tended to 
restore my self-possession ; and this was the cessation of 
the wind, which could not reach us in our present situa- 
tion — for, as you saw for yourself, the belt of the surf is 
considerably lower than the general bed of the ocean, and 
this latter now towered above us, a high, black, moun- 
tainous ridge. If you have never been at sea in a heavy 
gale, you can form no idea of the confusion of mind occa- 
sioned by the wind and spray together. They blind, 
deafen, and strangle you, and take away all power of 
action or reflection. But we were now, in a great meas- 
ure, rid of these annoyances — just as death-condemned 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 253 

felons in prison are allowed petty indulgences, forbidden 
them while their doom is yet uncertain. 

" How often we made the circuit of the belt it is 
impossible to say. We careered round and round for 
perhaps an hour, flying rather than floating, getting grad- 
ually more and more into the middle of the surge, and 
then nearer and nearer to its horrible inner edge. All 
this time I had never let go of the ring-bolt. My brother 
was at the stern, holding on to a small empty water-cask 
which had been securely lashed under the coop of the 
counter, and was the only thing on deck that had not 
been swept overboard when the gale first took us. As 
we approached the brink of the pit he let go his hold 
upon this, and made for the ring, from which, in the 
agony of his terror, he endeavored to force my hands, as 
it was not large enough to afford us both a secure grasp. 
I never felt deeper grief than when I saw him attempt 
this act — although I knew he was a madman when he did 
it — a raving maniac through sheer fright. I did not care, 
however, to contest the point with him. I knew it could 
make no difference whether either of us held on at all ; 
so I let him have the bolt, and went astern to the cask. 
This there was no great difficulty in doing ; for the smack 
flew round steadily enough, and upon an even keel — only 
swaying to and fro with the immense sweeps and swelters 
of the whirl. Scarcely had I secured myself in my new 
position, when we gave a wild lurch to starboard, and 
rushed headlong .into the abyss. I muttered a hurried 
prayer to God, and thought all was over. 



254 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

" As I felt the sickening sweep of the descent, I had in- 
stinctively tightened my hold upon the barrel, and closed 
my eyes. For some seconds I dared not open them — 
while I expected instant destruction, and wondered that 
I was not already in my death-struggles with the water. 
But moment after moment elapsed. I still lived. The 
sense of falling had ceased ; and the motion of the vessel 
seemed much as it had been before, while in the belt 
of foam, with the exception that she now lay more 
along. I took courage and looked once again upon the 
scene. 

" Never shall I forget the sensation of awe, horror, anc 
admiration with which I gazed about me. The boat a] 
peared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upoi 
the interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, pre 
digious in depth, and whose perfectly s mooth sides mig ht 
have been mistaken for ebony, but for the bewildering 
rapidity with which they spun around, and for the gleam- 
ing and ghastly radiance they shot forth, as the £ays 
of the full moon, from that circular rift amid the 
clouds which I have already described, streamed in a flood 
of golden glory along the black walls, and far away down 
into the inmost recesses of the abyss. 

" At first I was too much confused to observe any thing j 
accurately. The general burst of terrific grandeur was all | 
that I beheld. When I recovered myself a little, however, 
my gaze fell instinctively downward. In this direction I 
was able to obtain an unobstructed view, from the manner 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 255 

in which the smack hung on the inclined surface of the 
pool. She was quite upon an even keel — that is to say, 
her deck lay in a plane parallel with that of the water — 
but this latter sloped at an angle of more than forty-five 
degrees, so that we seemed to be lying upon our beam- 
ends. I could not help observing, nevertheless, that I had 
scarcely more difficulty in maintaining my hold and foot- 
ing in this situation, than if we had been upon a dead 
level ; and this, I suppose, was owing to the speed at 
which we revolved. 

" The rays of the moon seemed to search the very bot- 
tom of the profound gulf ; but still I could make out 
nothing distinctly on account of a thick mist in which 
every thing there was enveloped, and over which there 
hung a magnificent rainbow, like that narrow and totter- 
ing bridge which Mussulmen say is the only pathway be- 
tween Time and Eternity. This mist, or spray, was 
no doubt occasioned by the clashing of the great walls of 
the funnel, as they all met together at the bottom — but 
the yell that went up to the Heavens from out of that 
mist I dare not attempt to describe. - 

" Our first slide into the abyss itself, from the belt 
of foam above, had carried us to a great distance down the 
slope ; but our farther descent was by no means pro- 
portionate. Round and round we swept — not with any 
uniform movement — but in dizzying swings and jerks, that 
sent us sometimes only a few hundred yards — sometimes 
nearly the complete circuit of the whirl. Our progress 



256 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

downward, at each revolution, was slow, but very per, 
ceptible. 

" Looking about me upon the wide waste of liquid 
ebony on which we were thus borne, I perceived that our 
boat was not the only object in the embrace of the whirl. 
Both above and below us were visible fragments of ves- 
sels, large masses of building-timber and trunks of trees, 
with many smaller articles, such as pieces of house furn- 
iture, broken boxes, barrels and staves. I have already 
described the unnatural curiosity which had taken the 
place of my original terrors. It appeared to grow upon 
me as I drew nearer and nearer to my dreadful doom. I 
now began to watch, with a strange interest, the numerous 
things that floated in our company. I must have been 
delirious, for I even sought amusement in speculating upon 
the relative velocities of their several descents toward the 
foam below. ' This fir-tree,' I found myself at one time 
saying, 'will certainly be the next thing that takes 
the awful plunge and disappears,' — and then I was disap- 
pointed to find that the wreck of a Dutch merchant ship 
overtook it and went down before. At length, after mak- 
ing several guesses of this nature, and being deceived in 
all — this fact — the fact of my invariable miscalculation, 
set me upon a train of reflection that made my limbs 
again tremble, and my heart beat heavily once more. 

" It was not a new terror that thus affected me, but the 
dawn of a more exciting hope. This hope arose partly 
from memory, and partly from present observation. I 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 257 

called to mind the great variety of buoyant matter that 
strewed the coast of Lofoden, having been absorbed and 
then thrown forth by the Moskoe-strom. By far the 
greater number of the articles were shattered in the most 
extraordinary way — so chafed and roughened as to have 
the appearance of being stuck full of splinters — but then 
I distinctly recollected that there were some of them which 
were not disfigured at all. Now I could not account for 
this difference except by supposing that the roughened 
fragments were the only ones which had been completely 
absorbed — that the others had entered the whirl at so late 
a period of the tide, or, from some reason, had descended 
so slowly after entering, that they did not reach the bottom 
before the turn of the flood came, or of the ebb, as the case 
might be. I conceived it possible, in either instance, that 
they might thus be whirled up again to the level of the 
ocean, without undergoing the fate of those which had 
been drawn in more early or absorbed more rapidly. I 
made, also, three important observations. The first was, IX 
that as a general rule, the larger the bodies were, the 
more rapid their descent — the second, that, between two iX 
masses of equal extent, the one spherical, and the other 
of any other shape, the superiority in speed of descent was 
with the sphere — the third, that, between two masses ofV" 
equal size, the one cylindrical, and the other of any other 
shape, the cylinder was absorbed the more slowly. Since 
my escape, I have had several conversations on this sub- 
let with an old school-master of the district ; and it was 



258 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

from him that I learned the use of the words ' cylinder' 
and ' sphere.' He explained to me — although I have for- 
gotten the explanation — how what I observed was, in 
fact, the natural consequence of the forms of the floating 
fragments — and showed me how it happened that a 
cylinder, swimming in a vortex, offered more resistance to 
its suction, and was drawn in with greater difficulty than 
an equally bulky body, of any form whatever.* 

" There was one startling circumstance which went a 
great way in enforcing these observations, and rendering 
me anxious to turn them to account, and this was that, at 
every revolution, we passed something like a barrel, or 
else the yard or the mast of a vessel, while many of these 
things, which had been on our level when I first opened 
my eyes upon the wonders of the whirlpool, were now 
high up above us, and seemed to have moved but little 
from their original station. 

" I no longer hesitated what to do. I resolved to lash 
myself securely to the water-cask upon which I now held, 
to cut it loose from the counter, and to throw myself with 
it into the water. I attracted my brother's attention by 
signs, pointed to the floating barrels that came near us, 
and did everything in my power to make him understand 
what I was about to do. I thought at length that he 
comprehended my design — but, whether this was the case 
or not, he shook his head despairingly, and refused to 
move from his station by the ring-bolt. It was impossible 

* See Archimedes, " De Incidentibus in Eluido." — lib. 2. 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 259 

to reach him ; the emergency admitted of no delay ; and 
so, with a bitter struggle, I resigned him to his fate, fast- 
ened myself to the cask by means of the lashings which 
secured it to the counter, and precipitated myself with it 
into the sea, without another moment's hesitation. 

" The result was precisely what I had hoped it might be. 
As it is myself who now tell you this tale — as you see 
that I did escape — and as you are already in possession of 
the mode in which this escape was effected, and must 
therefore anticipate all that I have farther to say — I will 
bring my story quickly to conclusion. It might have been 
an hour, or thereabout, after my quitting the smack, when, 
having descended to a vast distance beneath me, it made 
three or four wild gyrations in rapid succession, and, bear- 
ing my loved brother with it, plunged headlong, at once 
and forever, into the chaos of foam below. The barrel to 
which I was attached sunk very little farther than half the 
distance between the bottom of the gulf and the spot at 
which I leaped overboard, before a great change took 
place in the character of the whirlpool. The slope of the 
sides of the vast funnel became momently less and less 
steep. The gyrations of the whirl grew, gradually, less and 
less violent. By degrees, the froth and the rainbow disap- 
peared, and the bottom of the gulf seemed slowly to 
uprise. The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and 
the full moon was setting radiantly in the west, when I 
found myself on the surface of the ocean, in full view of 
the shores of Lofoden, and above the spot where the pool 



260 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM. 

of the Moskoe-strom had been. It was the hour of the 
slack — but the sea still heaved in mountainous waves 
from the effects of the hurricane. I was borne violently 
into the channel of the Strom, and in a few minutes, was 
hurried down the coast into the ' grounds ' of the fisher- 
men. A boat picked me up — exhausted from fatigue — 
and (now that the danger was removed) speechless from 
the memory of its horror. Those who drew me on board 
were my old mates and daily companions — but they 
knew me no more than they would have known a traveller 
from the spirit-land. My hair, which had been raven 
black the day before, was as white as you see it now. 
They say too that the whole expression of my counte- 
nance had changed. I told them my story — they did not 
believe it. I now tell it to you — and I can scarcely expect 
you to put more faith in it than did the merry fishermen 
of Lofoden." 



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§11 







THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 



What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid 
iself among women, although puzzling questions, are not beyond all con- 
ture. 

Sir Thomas Browne, 



HE mental features discoursed of as the analytical, 
are, in themselves, but little susceptible of analysis. 
We appreciate them only in their effects. We know of 
them, among other things, that they are always to their 
possessor, when inordinately possessed, a source of the 
liveliest enjoyment. As the strong man exults in his 
physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his 
muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral 
activity which disentangles. He derives pleasure from 
even the most trivial occupations bringing his talent into 
play. He is fond of enigmas, of conundrums, hiero- 
glyphics ; exhibiting in his solutions of each a degree of 
acumen which appears to the ordinary apprehension 
preternatural. His results, brought about by the very 
soul and essence of method, have, in truth, the whole air 
of intuition. 

261 



262 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

The faculty of* re-solution is possibly much invigorated 
by mathematical study, and especially by that highest 
branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on account of its 
retrograde operations, has been called, as if par excellence, 
analysis. Yet to calculate is not in itself \o analyze. A 
chess-player, for example, does the one, without effort at 
the other. It follows that the game of chess, in its effects 
upon mental character, is greatly misunderstood. I am 
not now writing a treatise, but simply prefacing a some- 
what peculiar narrative by observations very much at ran- 
dom ; I will, therefore, take occasion to assert that the 
higher powers of the reflective intellect are more - decid- 
edly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game 
of draughts than by all the elaborate frivolty of chess. In 
this latter, where the pieces have different and bizarre 
motions, with various and variable values, what is only 
complex, is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is 
profound. The attention is here called powerfully into 
play. If it flag for an instant, an oversight is committed, 
resulting in injury or defeat. The possible moves being 
not only manifold, but involute, the chances of such over- 
sights are multiplied ; and in nine cases out of ten, it is 
the more concentrative rather than the more acute player 
who conquers. In draughts, on the contrary, where the 
moves are unique and have but little variation, the prob- 
abilities of inadvertence are diminished, and the mere at- 
tention being left comparatively unemployed, what ad- 
vantages are obtained by either party are obtained by 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 263 

superior acumen. To be less abstract, let us suppose a 
game of draughts where the pieces are reduced to four 
kings, and where, of course, no oversight is to be expected. 
It is obvious that here the victory can be decided (the 
players being at all equal) only by some recherche" move- 
ment, the result of some strong exertion of the intellect. 
Deprived of ordinary resources, the analyst throws him- 
self into the spirit of his opponent, identifies himself 
therewith, and not unfrequently sees thus, at a glance, the 
sole methods (sometimes indeed absurdly simple ones) 
by which he may seduce into error or hurry into miscal- 
culation. 

Whist has long been known for its influence upon what 
is termed the calculating power ; and men of the highest 
order of intellect have been known to take an apparently 
unaccountable delight in it, while eschewing chess as 
frivolous. Beyond doubt there is nothing of a similar na- 
ture so greatly tasking the faculty of analysis. The best 
chess-player in Christendom may be little more than the 
best player of chess ; but proficiency in whist implies ca- 
pacity for success in all these more important undertak- 
ings where mind struggles with mind. When I say pro- 
ficiency, I mean that perfection in the game which in- 
cludes a comprehension of all the sources whence legiti- 
mate advantage may be derived. These are not only 
manifold, but multiform, and lie frequently among re- 
cesses of thought altogether inaccessible to the ordinary 
understanding. To observe attentively is to remember 



264 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

distinctly ; and, so far, the concentrative chess-player will 
do very well at whist ; while the rules of Hoyle (them- 
selves based upon the mer« mechanism of the game) are 
sufficiently and generally comprehensible. Thus to have 
a retentive memory, and proceed by " the book " are 
points commonly regarded as the sum total of good play- 
ing. But it is in matters beyond the limits of mere rule 
that the skill of the analyst is evinced. He makes, in si- 
lence, a host of observations and inferences. So, perhaps, 
do his companions ; and the difference in the extent of 
the information obtained, lies not so much in the validity 
of the inference as in the quality of the observation. The 
necessary knowledge is that of what to observe. Our 
player confines himself not at all ; nor, because the game 
is the object, does he reject deductions from things exter- 
nal to the game. He examines the countenance of his 
partner, comparing it carefully with that of each of his 
opponents. He considers the mode of assorting the cards 
in each hand ; often counting trump by trump, and honor 
by honor, through the glances bestowed by their holders 
upon each. He notes every variation of face as the play 
progresses, gathering a fund of thought from the differ- 
ences in the expression of certainty, of surprise, of tri- 
umph, or chagrin. From the manner of gathering up a 
trick he judges whether the person taking it, can make an- 
other in the suit. He recognizes what is played through 
feint, by the manner with which it is thrown upon the 
table. A casual or inadvertent word ; the accidental drop- 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 265 

ping or turning of a card, with the accompanying anxiety 
or carelessness in regard to its concealment ; the counting 
of the tricks, with the order of their arrangement ; embar- 
rassment, hesitation, eagerness, or trepidation — all afford, 
to his apparently intuitive perception, indications of the 
true state of affairs. The first two or three rounds hav- 
ing been played, he is in full possession of the contents 
of each hand, and thenceforward puts down his cards 
with as absolute a precision of purpose as if the rest of 
the party had turned outward the faces of their own. 

The analytical power should not be confounded with 
simple ingenuity ; for while the analyst is necessarily in- 
genious, the ingenious man is often remarkably incapable 
of analysis. The constructive or combining power, by 
which ingenuity is usually manifested, and to which the 
phrenologists (I believe erroneously) have assigned a 
separate organ, supposing it a primitive faculty, has been 
so frequently seen in those whose intellect bordered other- 
wise upon idiocy, as to have attracted general observation 
among writers on morals. Between ingenuity and the analy- 
tic ability there exists a difference far greater, indeed, 
than that between the fancy and the imagination, but of 
a character very strictly analogous. It will be found, in 
fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly 
imaginative never otherwise than analytic. 

The narrative which follows will appear to the reader 
somewhat in the light of a commentary upon the proposi- 
tions just advanced. 



266 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

Residing in Paris during the spring and part of the 
summer of 18 — , I there became acquainted with a 
Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. This young gentleman 
was of an excellent, indeed of an illustrious family, but, 
by a variety of untoward events, had been reduced to such 
poverty that the energy of his character succumbed be- 
neath it, and he ceased to bestir himself in the world, or 
to care for the retrieval of his fortunes. By courtesy of 
his creditors, there still remained in his possession a small 
remnant of his patrimony ; and, upon the income arising 
from this, he managed, by means of a rigorous economy, 
to procure the necessaries of life, without troubling him- 
self about its superfluities. Books, indeed, were his sole 
luxuries, and in Paris these are easily obtained. 

Our first meeting was at an obscure library in the Rue 
Montmartre, where the accident of our both being in 
search of the same very rare and very remarkable volume, 
brought us into closer communion. We saw each other 
again and again. I was deeply interested in the little 
family history which he detailed to me with all that 
candor which a Frenchman indulges whenever mere self 
is the theme. I was astonished, too, at the vast extent of 
his reading ; and, above all, I felt my soul enkindled with- 
in me by the wild fervor, and the vivid freshness of his 
imagination. Seeking in Paris the objects I then sought, 
I felt that the society of such a man would be to me a 
treasure beyond price ; and this feeling I frankly confided 
to him. It was at length arranged that we should live 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 267 

together during my stay in the city ; and as my worldly 
circumstances were somewhat less embarrassed than his 
own, I was permitted to be at the expense of renting, and 
furnishing in a style which suited the rather fantastic 
gloom of our common temper, a time-eaten and grotesque 
mansion, long deserted through superstitions into which 
we did not inquire, and tottering to its fall in a retired 
and desolate portion of the Faubourg St. Germain. 

Had the routine of our life at this place been known to 
the world, we should have been regarded as madmen — 
although, perhaps, as madmen of a harmless nature. Our 
seclusion was perfect. We admitted no visitors. Indeed 
the locality of our retirement had been carefully kept a 
secret from my own former associates ; and it had been 
many years since Dupin had ceased to know or be known 
in Paris. We existed within ourselves alone. 

It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else shall 
I call it ?) to be enamored of the night for her own sake ; 
and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell ; 
giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon. 
The sable divinity would not herself dwell with us always ; 
but we could counterfeit her presence. At the first dawn 
of the morning we closed all the massy shutters of our 
old building ; lighted a couple of tapers which, strongly 
perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of 
rays. By the aid of these we then busied our souls in 
dreams — reading, writing, or conversing, until warned by 
the clock of the advent of the true Darkness. Then we 



268 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

sallied forth into the streets, arm and arm, continuing the 
topics of the day, or roaming far and wide until a late 
hour, seeking, amid the wild lights and shadows of the 
populous city, that infinity of mental excitement which 
quiet observation can afford. 

At such times I could not help remarking and admiring 
(although from his rich ideality I had been prepared to 
expect it) a peculiar analytic ability in Dupin. He 
seemed, too, to take an eager delight in its exercise — if 
not exactly in its display — and did not hesitate to confess 
the pleasure thus derived. He boasted to me, with a low 
chuckling laugh, that most men, in respect to himself, 
wore windows in their bosoms, and was wont to follow up 
such assertions by direct and very startling proofs of his 
intimate knowledge of my own. His manner at these 
moments was frigid and abstract ; his eyes were vacant in 
expression ; while his voice, usually a rich tenor, rose into 
a treble which would have sounded petulantly but for the 
deliberateness and entire distinctness of the enunciation. 
Observing him in these moods, I often dwelt meditatively 
upon the old philosophy of the Bi-Part Soul, and amused 
myself with the fancy of a double Dupin — the creative 
and the resolvent. 

Let it not be supposed, from what I have just said, 
that I am detailing any mystery, or penning any romance. 
What I have described in the Frenchman was merely the 
result of an excited, or perhaps of a diseased, intelligence. 
But of the character of his remarks at the periods in 
question an example will best convey the idea. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 269 

We were strolling one night down a long dirty street, 
in the vicinity of the Palais Royal. Being both, appa- 
rently, occupied with thought, neither of us had spoken 
a syllable for fifteen minutes at least. All at once Dupin 
broke forth with these words : 

"He is a very little fellow, that 's true, and would do 
better for the Thd&tre VariMs" 

" There can be no doubt of that," I replied, unwittingly, 
and not at first observing (so much had I been absorbed 
in reflection) the extraordinary manner in which the 
speaker had chimed in with my meditations. In an in- 
stant afterward I recollected myself, and my astonish- 
ment was profound. 

" Dupin," said I, gravely, " this is beyond my compre- 
hension. I do not hesitate to say that I am amazed, and 
can scarcely credit my senses. How was it possible you 

should know I was thinking of ?" Here I paused, 

to ascertain beyond a doubt whether he really knew of 
whom I thought. 

" of Chantilly," said he, "why do you pause? 

You were remarking to yourself that his diminutive 
figure unfitted him for tragedy." 

This was precisely what had formed the subject of. my 
reflections. Chantilly was a quondam cobbler of the Rue 
St. Denis, who, becoming stage-mad, had attempted the 
role of Xerxes, in Crebillon's tragedy so called, and been 
notoriously Pasquinaded for his pains. 

"Tell me, for Heaven's sake," I exclaimed, "the 



270 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

method — if method there is — by which you have been 
enabled to fathom my soul in this matter." In fact, I 
was even more startled than I would have been willing to 
express. 

" It was the fruiterer," replied my friend, "who brought 
you to the conclusion that the mender of soles was not of 
sufficient height for Xerxes et id genus omne." 

"The fruiterer! — you astonish me — I know no fruiterer 
whomsoever." 

" The man who ran up against you as we entered the 
street — it may have been fifteen minutes ago." 

I now remembered that, in fact, a fruiterer, carrying 
upon his head a large basket of apples, had nearly thrown 

me down, by accident, as we passed from the Rue C 

into the thoroughfare where we stood ; but what this had 
to do with Chantilly I could not possibly understand. 

There was not a particle of charlatdnerie about Dupin. 
" I will explain," he said, " and that you may comprehend 
all clearly, we will first retrace the course of your medita- 
tions, from the moment in which I spoke to you until 
that of the rencontre with the fruiterer in question. The 
larger links of the chain run thus — Chantilly, Orion, Dr. 
Nichols, Epicurus, Stereotomy, the street stones, the 
fruiterer." 

There are few persons who have not, at some pe'riod of 
their lives, amused themselves in retracing the steps by 
which particular conclusions of their own minds have 
been attained. The occupation is often full of interest ; 






THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 2? I 

and he who attempts it for the first time is astonished by 
the apparently illimitable distance and incoherence be- 
tween the starting-point and the goal. What, then, must 
have been my amazement, when I heard the Frenchman 
speak what he had just spoken, and when I could not 
help acknowledging that he had spoken the truth. He 
continued: 

" We had been talking of horses, if I remember aright, 

just before leaving the Rue C . This was the last 

subject we discussed. As we crossed into this street, a 
fruiterer, with a large basket upon his head, brushing 
quickly past us, thrust you upon a pile of paving-stones 
collected at a spot where the causeway is undergoing 
repair. You stepped upon one of the loose fragments, 
slipped, slightly strained your ankle, appeared vexed or 
sulky, muttered a few words, turned to look at the pile, 
and then proceeded in silence. I was not particularly 
attentive to what you did ; but observation has become 
with me, of late, a species of necessity. 

" You kept your eyes upon the ground — glancing, with 
a petulant expression, at the holes and ruts in the pave- 
ment, (so that I saw you were still thinking of the 
stones,) until we reached the little alley called Lamartine, 
which has been paved, by way of experiment, with the 
overlapping and riveted blocks, Here your countenance 
brightened up, and, perceiving your lips move, I could 
not doubt that you murmured the word ' stereotomy,' 
a term very affectedly applied to this species of pavement. 



272 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

I knew that you could not say to yourself ' stereotomy ' 
without being brought to think of atomies, and thus of 
the theories of Epicurus ; and since, when we discussed 
this subject not very long ago, I mentioned to you how 
singularly, yet with how little notice, the vague guesses 
of that noble Greek had met with confirmation in the late 
nebular cosmogony, I felt that you could not avoid cast- 
ing your eyes upward to the great nebula in Orion, and I 
certainly expected that you would do so. You did look 
up ; and I was now assured that I had correctly followed 
your steps. But in that bitter tirade upon Chantilly, 
which appeared in yesterday's ' Muse'e,' the satirist, mak- 
ing some disgraceful allusions to the cobbler's change of 
name upon assuming the buskin, quoted a Latin line 
about which we have often conversed. I mean the line 

Perdidit antiquum litera prima sonum. 

I had told you that this was in reference to Orion, formerly 
written Urion ; and, from certain pungencies connected 
with this explanation, I was aware that you could not 
have forgotten it. It was clear, therefore, that you would 
not fail to combine the two ideas of Orion and Chantilly. 
That you did combine them I saw by the character of the 
smile which passed over your lips. You thought of the 
poor cobbler's immolation. So far, you had been stoop- 
ing in your gait ; but now I saw you draw yourself up to 
your full height. I was then sure that you reflected upon 
the diminutive figure of Chantilly. At this point I inter- 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 2J$ 

rupted your meditations to remark that as, in fact, he 
was a very little fellow — that Chantilly — he would do bet- 
ter at the Theatre des Var •ie'te'sT 

Not long after this, we were looking over an evening 
edition of the Gazette des Tribunaux, when the fol- 
lowing paragraphs arrested our attention. 

" Extraordinary Murders.— This morning, about 
three o'clock, the inhabitants of the Quartier St. Roch 
were roused from sleep by a succession of terrific shrieks, 
issuing, apparently, from the fourth story of a house in 
the Rue Morgue, known to be in the sole occupancy of 
one Madame L' Espanaye, and her daughter, Mademoi- 
selle Camille L' Espanaye. After some delay, occasioned 
by a fruitless attempt to procure admission in the usual 
manner, the gateway was broken in with a crowbar, and 
eight or ten of the neighbors entered, accompanied by 
two gendarmes. By this time the cries had ceased ; but, 
as the party rushed up the first flight of stairs, two or 
more rough voices, in angry contention, were distinguished, 
and seemed to proceed from the upper part of the house. 
As the second landing was reached, these sounds, also, 
had ceased, and every thing remained perfectly quiet. 
The party spread themselves, and hurried from room to 
room. Upon arriving at a large back chamber in the 
fourth story, (the door of which, being found locked, with 
the key inside, was forced open,) a spectacle presented 
itself which struck every one present not less with horror 
than with astonishment. 



2/4 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

" The apartment was in the wildest disorder — the fur- 
niture broken and thrown about in all directions. There 
was only one bedstead ; and from this the bed had been 
removed, and thrown into the middle of the floor. On a 
chair lay a razor, besmeared with blood. On the hearth 
were two or three long and thick tresses of gray human 
hair, also dabbled with blood, and seeming to have been 
pulled out by the roots. Upon the floor were found four 
Napoleons, an ear-ring of topaz, three large silver spoons, 
three smaller of me' t al d' Alger, and two bags, containing 
nearly four thousand francs in gold. The drawers of a 
bureau, which stood in one corner, were open, and had 
been, apparently, rifled, although many articles still re- 
mained in them. A small iron safe was discovered under 
the bed (not under the bedstead). It was open, with the 
key still in the door. It had no contents beyond a few 
old letters, and other papers of little consequence. 

" Of Madame L' Espanaye no traces were here seen ; 
but an unusual quantity of soot being observed in the 
fire-place, a search was made in the chimney, and (horrible 
to relate !) the corpse of the daughter, head downward, 
was dragged therefrom ; it having been thus forced up 
the narrow aperture for a considerable distance. The body 
was quite warm. Upon examining it, many excoriations 
were perceived, no doubt occasioned by the violence with 
which it had been thrust up and disengaged. Upon the 
face were many severe scratches, and, upon the throat, 
dark bruises, and deep indentations of finger nails, as 
:r the deceased had been throttled to death. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 275 

" After a thorough investigation of every portion of the 
house without farther discovery, the party made its way 
into a small paved yard in the rear of the building, where 
lay the corpse of the old lady, with her throat so entirely 
cut that, upon an attempt to raise her, the head fell off. 
The body, as well as the head, was fearfully mutilated — 
the former so much so as scarcely to retain any semblance 
of humanity. 

" To this horrible mystery there is not as yet, we be- 
lieve, the slightest clew." 

The next day's paper had these additional particulars : 

" The Tragedy in the Rue Morgue. — Many individuals 
have been examined in relation to this most extraordinary 
and frightful affair," [the word 'affaire' has not yet, in 
France, that levity of import which it conveys with us] 
" but nothing whatever has transpired to throw light upon 
it. We give below all the material testimony elicited. 

" Pauline Dubourg, laundress, deposes that she has 
known both the deceased for three years, having washed 
for them during that period. The old lady and her 
daughter seemed on good terms — very affectionate 
toward each other. They were excellent pay. Could not 
speak in regard to their mode or means of living. Believed 
that Madame L. told fortunes for a living. Was reputed 
to have money put by. Never met any person in the 
house when she called for the clothes or took them home. 
Was sure that they had no servant in employ. There ap- 
peared to be no furniture in any part of the building 
except in the fourth story. 



276 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

" Pierre Morean, tobacconist, deposes that he has been j 
in the habit of selling small quantities of tobacco and snuff 
to Madame L' Espanaye for nearly four years. Was born 
in the neighborhood, and has always resided there. The 
deceased and her daughter had occupied the house in 
which the corpses were found, for more than six years.' 
It was formerly occupied by a jeweller, who under-let the 
upper rooms to various persons. The house was the prop- 
erty of Madame L. She became dissatisfied with the 
abuse of the premises by her tenant, and moved into 
them herself, refusing to let any portion. The old lady 
was childish. Witness had seen the daughter some five or 
six times during the six years. The two lived an exceed- 
ingly retired life — were reputed to have money. Had 
heard it said among the neighbors that Madame L. told 
fortunes — did not believe it. Had never seen any person 
enter the door except the old lady and her daughter, a 
porter once or twice, and a physician some eight or ten 
times. 

" Many other persons, neighbors, gave evidence to the 
same effect. No one was spoken of as frequenting the 
house. It was not known whether there were any living 
connections of Madame L. and her daughter. The shut- 
ters of the front windows were seldom opened. Those in 
the rear were always closed, with the exception of the 
large back room, fourth story. The house was a good 
house — not very old. 

" Isidore Muse/, gendarme, deposes that he was called to 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 277 

the house about three o'clock in the morning, and found 
some twenty or thirty persons at the gateway, endeavor- 
ing to gain admittance. Forced it open, at length, with 
a bayonet — not with a crowbar. Had but little difficulty 
in getting it open, on account of its being a double or 
folding gate, and bolted neither at bottom nor top. The 
shrieks were continued until the gate was forced — and 
then suddenly ceased. They seemed to be screams 
of some person (or persons) in great agony — were loud 
and drawn out, not short and quick. Witness led the 
way up stairs. Upon reaching the first landing, heard 
two voices in loud and angry contention — the one a gruff 
voice, the other much shriller — a very strange voice. 
Could distinguish some words of the former, which was 
that of a Frenchman. Was positive that it was not 
a woman's voice. Could distinguish the words ' sacre 1 ' 
and ' diable' The shrill voice was that of a foreigner. 
Could not be sure whether it was the voice of a man 
or of a woman. Could not make out what was said, but 
believed the language to be Spanish. The state of 
the room and of the bodies was described by this wit- 
ness as we described them yesterday. 

" Henri Duval, a neighbor, and by trade a silver-smith, 
deposes that he was one of the party who first entered 
the house. Corroborates the testimony of Muset in 
general. As soon as they forced an entrance, they re- 
closed the door, to keep out the crowd, which collected 
very fast, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour. The 



278 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

shrill voice, this witness thinks, was that of an . Italian. 
Was certain it was not French. Could not be sure that 
it was a man's voice. It might have been a woman's. 
Was not acquainted with the Italian language. Could not 
distinguish the words, but was convinced by the intona- 
tion that the speaker was an Italian. Knew Madame L. 
and her daughter. Had conversed with both frequently. 
Was sure that the shrill voice was not that of either of the 
deceased. 

" Odenheimer, restaurateur. — This witness volun- 
teered his testimony. Not speaking French, was exam- 
ined through an interpreter. Is a native of Amsterdam. 
Was passing the house at the time of the shrieks. They 
lasted for several minutes — probably ten. They were 
long and loud — very awful and distressing. Was one of 
those who entered the building. Corroborated the previ- 
ous evidence in every respect but one. Was sure that the 
shrill voice was that of a man — of a Frenchman. Could 
not distinguish the words uttered. They were loud and 
quick — unequal — spoken apparently in fear as well as in 
anger. The voice was harsh — not so much shrill as harsh. 
Could not call it a shrill voice. The gruff voice said re- 
peatedly, ' sacr^ ' diable' and once ' mon Dieu? 

" Jules Mignaud, banker, of the firm of Mignaud et 
Fils, Rue Deloraine. Is the elder Mignaud. Madame 
L' Espanaye had some property. Had opened an account 

with his banking house in the spring of the year 

(eight years previously). Made frequent deposits in small 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 2Jq 

sums. Had checked for nothing until the third day be- 
fore her death, when she took out in person the sum of 
4000 francs. This sum was paid in gold, and a clerk sent 
home with the money. 

" Adolphe Le Bon, clerk to Mignaud et Fils, deposes 
that on the day in question, about noon, he accompanied 
Madame L' Espanaye to her residence with the 4060 
francs, put up in two bags. Upon the door being opened, 
Mademoiselle L. appeared and took from his hands one of 
the bags, while the old lady relieved him of the other. He 
then bowed and departed. Did not see any person in the 
street at the time. It is a by-street — very lonely. 

" William Bird, tailor, deposes that he was one of the 
party who entered the house. Is an Englishman. Has 
lived in Paris two years. Was one of the first to ascend 
the stairs. Heard the voices in contention. The gruff 
voice was that of a Frenchman. Could make out several 
words, but cannot now remember all. Heard distinctly 
\ sacrt' and ' mon Dieu! There was a sound at the mo- 
ment as if of several persons struggling — a scraping and 
scuffling sound. The shrill voice was very loud — louder 
than the gruff one. Is sure that it was not the voice of 
an Englishman. Appeared to be that of a German. 
Might have been a woman's voice. Does not understand 
German. 

" Four of the above-named witnesses, being recalled, 
deposed that the door of the chamber in which was found 
the body of Mademoiselle L. was locked on the inside 



28o THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

when the party reached it. Every thing was perfectly 
silent — no groans or noises of any kind. Upon forcing 
the door no person was seen. The windows, both of the 
back and front room, were down and firmly fastened from 
within. A door between the two rooms was closed but 
not locked. The door leading from the front room into 
the passage was locked, with the key on the inside. A 
small room in the front of the house, on the fourth story, 
at the head of the passage, was open, the door being ajar. 
This room was crowded with old beds, boxes, and so forth. 
These were carefully removed and searched. There wa9 
not an inch of any portion of the house which was not 
carefully searched. Sweeps were sent up and down the 
chimneys. The house was a four-story one, with garrets 
{maiisardes). A trap-door on the roof was nailed down 
very securely — did not appear to have been opened for 
years. The time elapsing between the hearing of the 
voices in contention and the breaking open of the room 
door was variously stated by the witnesses. Some made 
it as short as three minutes — some as long as five. The 
door was opened with difficulty. 

" Alfonzo Garcio, undertaker, deposes that he resides 
in the Rue Morgue. Is a native of Spain, Was one of 
the party who entered the house. Did not proceed up 
stairs. Is nervous, and was apprehensive of the conse- 
quences of agitation. Heard the voices in contention. 
The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. Could not 
distinguish what was said. The shrill voice was that of 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 28 1 

an Englishman — is sure of this. Does not understand the 
English language, but judges by the intonation.. 

" Alberto Montani, confectioner, deposes that he was 
among the first to ascend the stairs. Heard the voices 
in question. The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. 
Distinguished several words. The speaker appeared "to 
be expostulating. Could not make out the words of the 
shrill voice. Spoke quick and unevenly. Thinks it the 
voice of a Russian. Corroborates the general testimony. 
Is an Italian. Never conversed with a native x)f Russia. 

" Several witnesses, recalled, here testified that the 
chimneys of all the rooms on the fourth story were too 
narrow to admit the passage of a human being. By 
j sweeps ' were meant cylindrical sweeping-brushes, such 
as are employed by those who clean chimneys. These 
brushes were passed up and down every flue in the house. 
There is no back passage by which any one could have 
descended while the party proceeded up stairs. The body 
of Mademoiselle L' Espanaye was so firmly wedged in the 
chimney that it could not be got down until four or five 
of the party united their strength. 

" Paul Dumas, physician, deposes that he was. called to 
view the bodies about daybreak. They were both then 
lying on the sacking of the bedstead in the chamber where 
Mademoiselle L. was found. The corpse of the young 
lady was much bruised and excoriated. The fact that it 
had been thrust up the chimney would sufficiently account 
for these appearances. The throat was greatly chafed. 



282 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

There were several deep scratches just below the chin, to- 
gether wjth a series of livid spots which were evidently 
the impression of fingers. The face was fearfully discol- 
ored, and the eyeballs protruded. The tongue had been 
partially bitten through. A large bruise was discovered 
upon the pit of the stomach, produced, apparently, by the 
pressure of a knee. In the opinion of M. Dumas, Mad- 
emoiselle L' Espanaye had been throttled to death by 
some person or persons unknown. The corpse of the 
mother was horribly mutilated. All the bones of the right 
leg and arm were more or less shattered. The left tibia 
much splintered, as well as all the ribs of the left side. 
Whole body dreadfully bruised and discolored. It was 
not possible to say how the injuries had been inflicted. 
A heavy club of wood, or a broad bar of iron — a chair — 
any large, heavy, and obtuse weapon would have produced 
such results, if wielded by the hands of a very powerful 
man. No woman could have inflicted the blows with any 
weapon. The head of the deceased, when seen by wit- 
ness, was entirely separated from the body, and was also 
greatly shattered. The throat had evidently been cut 
with some very sharp instrument — probably with a razor. 
«r " Alexandre Etienne, surgeon, was called with M. Dumas 
to view the bodies. Corroborated the testimony, and the 
opinions of M. Dumas. 

" Nothing further of importance was elicited, although 
several other persons were examined. A murder so mys- 
terious, and so perplexing in all its particulars, was never 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 283 

before committed in Paris — if indeed a murder has been 
committed at all. The police are entirely at fault — an 
unusual occurrence in affairs of this nature. There is not, 
however, the shadow of a clew apparent." 

The evening edition of the paper stated that the greatest 
excitement still continued in the Quartier St. Roch — that 
the premises in question had been carefully re-searched, 
and fresh examinations of witnesses instituted, but all to 
no purpose. A postscript, however v mentioned that 
Adolphe Le Bon had been arrested and imprisoned — 
although nothing appeared to criminatejiim beyond the 
facts already detailed. 

Dupin seemed singularly interested in the progress of 
this affair — at least so I judged from his manner, for he 
made no comments. It was only after the announcement 
that Le Bon had been imprisoned, that he asked me my 
opinion respecting the murders. 

I could merely agree with all Paris in considering them 
an insoluble mystery. I saw no means by which it would 
be possible to trace the murderer. 

"We must not judge of the means," said Dupin, " by 
this shell of an examination. The Parisian police, so 
much extolled for acumen, are cunning, but no more. 
There is no method in their proceedings, beyond the 
method of the moment. They make a vast parade of 
measures ; but, not unfrequently, these are so ill-adapted 
to the objects proposed, as to put us in mind of Monsieur 
Jourdain's calling for his robe-de-chambre — pour mieux en- 



284 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

tendre la musiqae. The results attained by them are not 
unfrequently surprising, but, for the most part, are brought 
about by simple diligence and activity. When these 
qualities are unavailing, their schemes fail. Vidocq, for 
example, was a good guesser, and a persevering man. 
But, without educated thought, he erred continually by 
the very intensity at his investigations. He impaired his 
vision by holding the object too close. He might see, 
perhaps, one or two points with unusual clearness, but in 
so doing he, necessarily, lost sight of the matter as a 
whole. Thus there is such a thing as being too profound. 
Truth is not always in a well. In fact, as regards the 
more important knowledge, I do believe that she is in- 
variably superficial. The depth lies in the valleys where 
we seek her, and not upon the mourwtain-tops where she 
is found. The modes and sources of this kind of error are 
well typified in the contemplation of the heavenly bodies. 
To look at a star by glances — to view it in a side-long way, 
by turning toward it the exterior portions of the retina 
(more susceptible of feeble impressions of light than the 
interior), is to behold the star distinctly — is to have the 
best appreciation of its lustre — a lustre which grows dim 
just in proportion as. we turn our vision fully upon it. 
A greater number of rays actually fall upon the eye in the 
latter case, but in the former, there is the more refined 
capacity for comprehension. By undue profundity we 
perplex and enfeeble thought ; and it is possible to make 
even Venus herself vanish from the firmament by a scru- 
tiny too sustained, too concentrated, or too direct. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 285 

" As for these murders, let us enter into some examina- 
tions for ourselves, before we make up an opinion respect- 
ing them. An inquiry will afford us amusement," [I 
thought this an odd term, so applied, but said nothing] 
" and besides, Le Bon once rendered me a service for 
which I am not ungrateful. We will go and see the 

premises with our own eyes. I know G , the Prefect y( 

of Police, and shall have no difficulty in obtaining the 
necessary permission." 

The permission was obtained, and we proceeded at 
once to to the Rue Morgue. This is one of those miserable 
thoroughfares which intervene between the Rue Richelieu 
and the Rue St. Roch. It was late in the afternoon 
when we reached it, as this quarter is at a great distance 
from that in which we resided. The house was readily 
found; for there were still many persons gazing up at the 
closed shutters, with an objectless curiosity, from the op- 
posite side of the way. It was an ordinary Parisian house, 
with a gateway, on one side of which was a glazed watch- 
box, with a sliding panel in the window, indicating a loge 
de concierge. Before going in we walked up the street, 
turned down an alley, and then, again turning, passed in 
the rear of the building — Dupin, meanwhile, examining 
the whole neighborhood, as well as the house, with a min- 
uteness of attention for which I could see no possible ob- 
ject. 

Retracing our steps we came again to the front of the 
dwelling, rang, and, having shown our credentials, were 



286 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

admitted by the agents in charge. We went up stairs — 
into the chamber where the body of Mademoiselle L' Es- 
panaye had been found, and where both the deceased 
still lay. The disorders of the room had, as usual, been 
suffered to exist. I saw nothing beyond what had been 
stated in the Gazette des Tribunaux. Dupin scrutinized 
every thing — not excepting the bodies of the victims. 
We then went into the other rooms, and into the yard ; 
a gendarme accompanying us throughout. The examina- 
tion occupied us until dark, when we took our departure. 
On our way home my companion stepped in for a mo- 
ment at the office of one of the daily papers. 

I have said that the whims of my friend were manifold, 
and that Je les me'nagais : — for this phrase there is no 
English equivalent. It was his humor, now, to decline all 
conversation on the subject of the murder, until about 
noon the next day. He then asked me, suddenly, if I had 
observed any thing peculiar at the scene of the atrocity. 

There was something in his manner of emphasizing 
the word " peculiar," which caused me to shudder, with- 
out knowing why. 

" No, nothing peculiar" I said ; " nothing more, at 
least, than we both saw stated in the paper." 

" The Gazette" he replied, " has not entered, I fear, 
into the unusual horror of the thing. But dismiss the 
idle opinions of this print. It appears to me that this 
mystery is considered insoluble, for the very reason which 
should cause it to be regarded as easy of solution — I mean 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 287 

for the outri character of its features. The police are 
confounded by the seeming absence of motive — not for 
the murder itself — but for the atrocity of the murder. 
They are puzzled, too, by the seeming impossibility of rec- 
onciling the voices heard in contention, with the facts 
that no one was discovered upstairs but the assassinated 
Mademoiselle L' Espanaye, and that there were no means 
of egress without the notice of the party ascending. 
The wild disorder of the room ; the corpse thrust, with 
the head downward, up the chimney ; the frightful mutila- 
tion of the body of the old lady ; these considerations, 
with those just mentioned, and others which I need not 
mention, have sufficed to paralyze the powers, by putting 
completely at fault the boasted acumen, of the government 
agents. They have fallen into the gross but common 
error of confounding the unusual with the abstruse. But 
it is by these deviations from the plane of the ordinary, 
that reason feels its way, if at all, in its search for the 
true. In investigations such as we are now pursuing, it 
should not be so much asked 'what has occurred,' as 
, what has occurred that has never occurred before.' In 
fact, the facility with which I shall arrive, or have arrived, 
at the solution of this mystery, is in the direct ratio of its 
apparent insolubility in the eyes of the police." 

I stared at the speaker in mute astonishment. 

" I am now awaiting," continued he, looking toward the 
door of our apartment — " I am now awaiting a person 
who, although perhaps not the perpetrator of these 



288 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

butcheries, must have been in some measure implicated 
in their perpetration. Of the worst portion of the crimes 
committed, it is probable that he is innocent. I hope 
that I am right in this supposition ; for upon it I build my 
expectation of reading the entire riddle. I look for the 
man here — in this room — every moment. It is true that 
he may not arrive ; but the probability is that he will. 
Should he come, it will be necessary to detain him. Here 
are pistols ; and we both know how to use them when oc- 
casion demands their use." 

I took the pistols, scarcely knowing what I did, or be- 
lieving what I heard, while Dupin went on, very much as 
if in a soliloquy. I have already spoken of his abstract 
manner at such times. His discourse was addressed to 
myself ; but his voice, although by no means loud, had 
that intonation which is commonly employed in speaking 
to some one at a great distance. His eyes, vacant in ex- 
pression, regarded only the wall. 

" That the voices heard in contention," he said, " by the 
party upon the stairs, were not the voices of the women 
themselves, was fully proved by the evidence. This relieves 
us of all doubt upon the question whether the old lady 
could have first destroyed the daughter, and afterward have 
committed suicide. I speak of this point chiefly for the 
sake of method ; for the strength of Madame L' Espanaye 
would have been utterly unequal to the task of thrusting 
her daughter's corpse up the chimney as it was found ; and 
the nature of the wounds upon her own person entirely 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 289 

precludes the idea of self-destruction. Murder, then, has 
been committed by some third party ; and the voices of 
this third party were those heard in contention. Let me 
now advert — not to the whole testimony respecting these 
voices — but to what was peculiar in that testimony. Did 
you observe any thing peculiar about it ? " 

I remarked that, while all the witnesses agreed in sup- 
posing the gruff voice to be that of a Frenchman, there 
was much disagreement in regard to the shrill, or, as one 
individual termed it, the harsh voice. 

" That was the evidence itself," said Dupin, * but it 
was not the peculiarity of the evidence. You have ob- 
served nothing distinctive. Yet there was something to 
be observed. The witnesses, as you remark, agreed about 
the gruff voice ; they were here unanimous. But in regard 
to the shrill voice, the peculiarity is — not that they dis- 
agreed — but that, while an Italian, an Englishman, a 
Spaniard, a Hollander, and a Frenchman attempted to 
describe it, each one spoke of it as that of a foreigner. 
Each is sure that it was not the voice of one of his own 
countrymen. Each likens it — not to the voice of an 
individual of any nation with whose language he is con- 
versant — but the converse. The Frenchman supposes it 
the voice of a Spaniard, and ' might have distinguished 
some words had he been acquainted with the Spanish" The 
Dutchman maintains it to have been that of a Frenchman ; 
but we find it stated that ' not understanding French this 
witness was examined through an interpreter' The Eng- 



29O THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

lishman thinks it the voice of a German, and ' does not 
understand German' The Spaniard ' is sure ' that it was 
that of an Englishman, but ' judges by the intonation ' 
altogether, ' as he has no knowledge of the English' The 
Italian believes it the voice of a Russian, but ' has never 
conversed with a native of Russia.' A second Frenchman 
differs, moreover, with the first, and is positive that the 
voice was that of an Italian ; but, not being cognizant of 
that tongue ', is, like the Spaniard, i convinced by the in- 
tonation.* Now, how strangely unusual must that voice 
have really been, about which such testimony as this 
could have been elicited ! — in whose tones, even, denizens 
of the five great divisions of Europe could recognize 
nothing familiar ! You will say that it might have been 
the voice of an Asiatic — of an African. Neither Asiatics 
nor Africans abound in Paris ; but, without denying the 
inference, I will now merely call your attention to three 
points. The voice is termed by one witness ' harsh rather 
than shrill/ It is represented by two others to have been 
' quick and unequal' No words — no sounds resembling 
words — were by any witness mentioned as distinguishable. 
" I know not," continued Dupin, " what impression I 
may have made, so far, upon your own understanding ; 
but I do not hesitate to say that legitimate deductions 
even from this portion of the testimony — the portion re- 
specting the gruff and shrill voices — are in themselves 
sufficient to engender a suspicion which should give direc- 
tion to all farther progress in the investigation of the 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 29 1 

mystery. I said ' legitimate deductions ' ; but my mean- 

Iing is not thus fully expressed. I designed to imply that 
the deductions are the sole proper ones, and that the sus- 
picion arises inevitably from them as the single result. 
What the suspicion is, however, I will not say just yet. 
I merely wish you to bear in mind that, with myself, it 
was sufficiently forcible to give a definite form — a certain 
tendency — to my inquiries in the chamber. 

" Let us now transport ourselves, in fancy, to this 
chamber. What shall we first seek here ? The means of 
egress employed by the murderers. It is not too much 
to say that neither of us believe in preternatural events. 
Madame and Mademoiselle L' Espanaye were not de- 
stroyed by spirits. The doers of the deed were material and 
escaped materially. Then how ? Fortunately there is but 
one mode of reasoning upon the point, and that mode 
must lead us to a definite decision. Let us examine, each 
by each, the possible means of egress. It is clear that the 
assassins were in the room where Mademoiselle L' Espa- 
naye was found, or at least in the room adjoining, when 
the party ascended the stairs. It is, then, only from these 
two apartments that w r e have to seek issues. The police 
have laid bare the floors, the ceiling, and the masonry of 
the walls, in every direction. No secret issues could have 
escaped their vigilance. But, not trusting to their eyes, 
I examined with my own. There were, then, no secret 
issues. Both doors leading from the rooms into the pas- 
sage were securely locked, with the keys inside. Let us 



2Q2 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

turn to the chimneys. These, although of ordinary width 
for some eight or ten feet above the hearths, will not 
admit, throughout their extent, the body of a large cat. 
The impossibility of egress, by means already stated, 
being thus absolute, we are reduced to the windows. 
Through those of the front room no one could have 
escaped without notice from the crowd in the street. The 
murderers must have passed, then, through those of the 
back room. Now, brought to this conclusion in so un- 
equivocal a manner as we are, it is not our part, as 
reasoners, to reject it on account of apparent impossi- 
bilities. It is only left for us to prove that these apparent 
1 impossibilities ' are, in reality, not such. 

" There are two windows in the chamber. One of them 
is unobstructed by furniture, and is wholly visible. The 
lower portion of the other is hidden from view by the 
head of the unwieldy bedstead which is thrust close up 
against it. The former was found securely fastened from 
within. It resisted the utmost force of those who en- 
deavored to raise it. A large gimlet-hole had been pierced 
in its frame to the left, and a very stout nail was found 
fitted therein, nearly to the head. Upon examining the 
other window, a similar nail was seen similarly fitted in it ; 
and a vigorous attempt to raise this sash failed also. The 
police were now entirely satisfied that egress had not been 
in these directions. And, therefore, it was thought a 
matter of supererogation to withdraw the nails and open 
the windows. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 293 

" My own examination was somewhat more particular, 
and was so for the reason I have just given — because here 
it was, I knew, that all apparent impossibilities must be 
proved to be not such in reality. 

"I proceeded to think thus — a posteriori. The mur- 
derers did escape from one of these windows. This being 
so, they could not have re-fastened the sashes from the 
inside, as they were found fastened ; — the consideration 
which put a stop, through its obviousness, to the scrutiny 
of the police in this quarter. Yet the sashes were fastened. 
They must, then, have the power of fastening themselves. 
There was no escape from this conclusion. I stepped to 
the unobstructed casement, withdrew the nail with some 
difficulty, and attempted to raise the sash. It resisted all 
my efforts, as I had anticipated. A concealed spring 
must, I now knew, exist ; and this corroboration of my 
idea convinced me that my premises, at least, were cor- 
rect, however mysterious still appeared the circumstances 
attending the nails. A careful search soon brought to 
light the hidden spring. I pressed it, and, satisfied with 
the discovery, forbore to upraise the sash. 

" I now replaced the nail and regarded it attentively. 
A person passing out through this window might have 
reclosed it, and the spring would have caught — but the 
nail could not have been replaced. The conclusion was 
plain, and again narrowed in the field of my investiga- 
tions. The assassins must have escaped through the other 
window. Supposing, then, the springs upon each sash to 



294 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

be the same, as was probable, there must be found a dif- 
ference between the nails, or at least between the modes 
of their fixture. Getting upon the sacking of the bed- 
stead, I looked over the head-board minutely at the sec- 
ond casement. Passing my hand down behind the board, 
I readily discovered and pressed the spring, which was, as 
I had supposed, identical in character with its neighbor. 
I now looked at the nail. It was as stout as the other, 
and apparently fitted in the same manner — driven in 
nearly up to the head. 

"You will say that I was puzzled ; but, if you think so, 
you must have misunderstood the nature of the induc- 
tions. To use a sporting phrase, I had not been once ' at 
fault.' The scent had never for an instant been lost. 
There was no flaw in any link of the chain. I had traced 
the secret to its ultimate result, — and that result was the 
nail. It had, I say, in every respect, the appearance of 
its fellow in the other window ; but this fact was an abso- 
lute nullity (conclusive as it might seem to be) when com- 
pared with the consideration that here, at this point, 
terminated the clew. ' There must be something wrong,' 
I said, ' about the nail.' I touched it ; and the head, with 
about a quarter of an inch of the shank, came off in my 
fingers. The rest of the shank was in the gimlet-hole, 
where it had been broken off. The fracture was an old 
one (for its edges were incrusted with rust), and had ap- 
parently been accomplished by the blow of a hammer, 
which had partially imbedded, in the top of the bottom 






THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 295 

sash, the head portion of the nail. I now carefully re- 
placed this head portion in the indentation whence I had 
taken it, and the resemblance to a perfect nail was com- 
plete — the fissure was invisible. Pressing the spring, I 
gently raised the sash for a few inches ; the head went up 
with it, remaining firm in its bed. I closed the window, 
and the semblance of the whole nail was again perfect. 

" This riddle, so far, was now unriddled. The assassin 
had escaped through the window which looked upon the 
bed. Dropping of its own accord upon his exit (or perhaps 
purposely closed), it had become fastened by the spring ; 
and it was the retention of this spring which had been 
mistaken by the police for that of the nail, — farther in- 
quiry being thus considered unnecessary. 

" The next question is that of the mode of descent. 
Upon this point I had been satisfied in my walk with you 
around the building. About five feet and a half from 
the casement in question there runs a lightning-rod. 
From this rod it would have been impossible for any one 
to reach the window itself, to say nothing of entering it. 
I observed, however, that the shutters of the fourth story 
were of the peculiar kind called by Parisian carpenters 
ferrades — a kind rarely employed at the present day, but 
frequently seen upon very old mansions at Lyons and 
Bourdeaux. They are in the form of an ordinary door 
(a single, not a folding door), except that the lower half is 
latticed or worked in open trellis — thus affording an ex- 
cellent hold for the hands. In the present instance these 



296 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

shutters are fully three feet and a half broad. When we 
saw them from the rear of the house, they were both 
about hall open — that is to say, they stood off at right 
angles from the wall. It is probable that the police, as 
well as myself, examined the back of the tenement ; but, 
if so, in looking at these ferrades in the line of their 
breadth (as they must have done), they did not perceive 
this great breadth itself, or, at all events, failed to take it 
into due consideration. In fact, having once satisfied 
themselves that no egress could have been made in this 
quarter, they would naturally bestow here a very cursory 
examination. It was clear to me, however, that the shut- 
ter belonging to the window at the head of the bed, would, 
if swung fully back to the wall, reach to within two feet 
of the lightning-rod. It was also evident that, by exer- 
tion of a very unusual degree of activity and courage, an 
entrance into the window, from the rod, might have been 
thus effected. By reaching to the distance of two feet 
and a half (we now suppose the shutter open to its whole 
extent) a robber might have taken a firm grasp upon the 
trellis-work. Letting go, then, his hold upon the rod, 
placing his feet securely against the wall, and springing 
boldly from it, he might have swung the shutter so as to 
close it, and, if we imagine the window open at the time, 
might even have swung himself into the room. 

" I wish you to bear especially in mind that I have 
spoken of a very unusual degree of activity as requisite to 
success in so hazardous and so difficult a feat. It is my 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 297 

design to show you first, that the thing might possibly 
have been accomplished : — but, secondly and chiefly, I 
wish to impress upon your understanding the very ex- 
traordinary — the almost preternatural character of that 
agility which could have accomplished it. 

" You will say, no doubt, using the language of the law, 
that ' to make out my case,' I should rather undervalue, 
than insist upon a full estimation of the activity required 
in this matter. This may be the practice in law, but it is 
not the usage of reason. My ultimate object is only the 
truth. My immediate purpose is to lead you to place in 
juxtaposition, that very unusual activity of which I have 
just spoken, with that very peculiar .shrill (or harsh) and 
unequal voice, about whose nationality no two persons 
could be found to agree, and in whose utterance no syl- 
labification could be detected." 

At these words a vague and half-formed conception of 
the meaning of Dupin flitted over my mind. I seemed to 
be upon the verge of comprehension, without power to 
comprehend — as men, at times, find themselves upon the 
brink of remembrance, without being able, in the end, to 
remember. My friend went on with his discourse. 

" You will see," he said, " that I have shifted the ques- 
tion from the mode of egress to that of ingress. It was 
my design to convey the idea that both were effected in 
the same manner, at the same point. Let us now revert 
to the interior of the room. Let us survey the appear- 
ances here. The drawers of the bureau, it is said, had 






298 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

been rifled, although many articles of apparel still remained 
within them. The conclusion here is absurd. It is a mere 
guess — a very silly one — and no more. How are we to 
know that the articles found in the drawers were not all 
these drawers had originally contained ? Madame U Es- 
panaye and her daughter lived an exceedingly retired 
life — saw no company — seldom went out — had little use 
for numerous changes of habiliment. Those found were 
at least of as good quality as any likely to be possessed by 
these ladies. If a thief had taken any, why did he not 
take the best — why did he not take all ? In a word, why 
did he abandon four thousand francs in gold to encumber 
himself with a bundle of linen ? The gold was abandoned. 
Nearly the whole sum mentioned by Monsieur Mignaud, 
the banker, was discovered, in bags, upon the floor. I 
wish you therefore, to discard from your thoughts the 
blundering idea of motive, engendered in the brains of the 
police by that portion of the evidence which speaks of 
money delivered at the door of the house. Coincidences 
ten times as remarkable as this (the delivery of the money, 
and murder committed within three days upon the party 
receiving it), happen to all of us every hour of our lives, 
without attracting even momentary notice. Coincidences, 
in general, are great stumbling-blocks in the way of that 
class of thinkers who have been educated to know nothing 
of the theory of probabilities — that theory to which the 
most glorious objects of human research are indebted for 
the most glorious of illustration. In the present instance, 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 299 

had the gold been gone, the fact of its delivery three days 
before would have formed something more than a coinci- 
dence. It would have been corroborative of this idea of 
motive. But, under the real circumstances of the case, if 
we are to suppose gold the motive of this outrage, we 
must also imagine the perpetrator so vacillating an idiot 
as to have abandoned his gold and his motive together. 

" Keeping now steadily in mind the points to which I 
have drawn your attention — that peculiar voice, that 
unusual agility, and that startling absence of motive in a 
murder so singularly atrocious as this — let us glance at 
the butchery itself. Here is a woman strangled to death 
by manual strength, and thrust up a chimney head down- 
ward. Ordinary assassins employ no such mode of 
murder as this. Least of all, do they thus dispose of the 
murdered. In the manner of thrusting the corpse up the 
chimney, you will admit that there was something exces- 
sively outre — something altogether irreconcilable with our 
common notions of human action, even when we suppose 
the actors the most depraved of men. Think, too, how 
great must have been that strength which could have 
thrust the body up such an aperture so forcibly that the 
united vigor of several persons was found barely sufficient 
to drag it down ! 

" Turn, now, to other indications of the employment of 
a vigor most marvellous. On the hearth were thick 
tresses — very thick tresses — of gray human hair. These 
had been torn out by the roots. You are aware of the 



300 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

great force necessary in tearing thus from the head even 
twenty or thirty hairs together. You saw the locks in 
question as well as myself. Their roots (a hideous sight !) 
were clotted with fragments of the flesh of the scalp — 
sure token of the prodigious power which had been 
exerted in uprooting perhaps half a million of hairs at a 
time. The throat of the old lady was not merely cut, but 
the head absolutely severed from the body : the instru- 
ment was a mere razor. I wish you also to loo'k at the 
brutal ferocity of these deeds. Of the bruises upon the 
body of Madame L' Espanaye I do not speak. Monsieur 
Dumas, and his worthy coadjutor Monsieur Etienne, have 
pronounced that they were inflicted by some obtuse 
instrument ; and so far these gentlemen are very correct. 
The obtuse instrument was clearly the stone pavement in 
the yard, upon which the victim had fallen from the win- 
dow which looked in upon the bed. This idea, however 
simple it may now seem, escaped the police for the same 
reason that the breadth of the shutters escaped them — 
because, by the affair of the nails, their perceptions had 
been hermetically sealed against the possibility of the 
windows having ever been opened at all. 

" If now, in addition to all these things, you have prop- 
erly reflected upon the odd disorder of the chamber, we 
have gone so far as to combine the ideas of an agility 
astounding, a strength superhuman, a ferocity brutal, a 
butchery without motive, a grotesquerie in horror abso- 
lutely alien from humanity, and a voice foreign in tone to 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 301 

the ears of men of many nations, and devoid of all dis- 
tinct or intelligible syllabification. What result, then, has 
ensued ? What impression have I made upon your 
fancy? " 

I felt a creeping of the flesh as Dupin asked me the 
question. "A madman," I said, "has done this deed — 
some raving maniac, escaped from a neighboring Maison 
de SaiiteT 

" In some respects," he replied, " your idea is not irrele- 
vant. But the voices of madmen, even in their wildest 
paroxysms, are never found to tally with that peculiar 
voice heard upon the stairs. Madmen are of some nation, 
and their language, however incoherent in its words, has 
always the coherence of syllabification. Besides, the hair 
of a madman is not such as I now hold in my hand. I 
disentangled this little tuft from the rigidly clutched fin- 
gers of Madame L' Espanaye. Tell me what you can make 
of it." 

" Dupin ! " I said, completely unnerved ; " this hair is 
most unusual — this is no human hair." 

"I have not asserted that it is," said he; "but, before 
we decide this point, I wish you to glance at the little 
sketch I have here traced upon this paper. It is a fac- 
simile drawing of what has been described in one portion 
of the testimony as ' dark bruises and deep indentations 
of finger nails ' upon the throat of Mademoiselle L' Espa- 
naye, and in another (by Messrs. Duma sand Etienne) as a 
* series of livid spots, evidently the impression of fingers.' 



302 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

"You will perceive," continued my friend, spreading 
out the paper upon the table before us, " that this draw- 
ing gives the idea of a firm and fixed hold. There is no 
slipping apparent. Each finger has retained — possibly 
until the death of the victim — the fearful grasp by which 
it originally imbedded itself. Attempt, now, to place all 
your fingers, at the same time, in the respective impres- 
sions as you see them." 

I made the attempt in vain. 

" We are possibly not giving this matter a fair trial," 
he said. " The paper is spread out upon a plane surface ; 
but the human throat is cylindrical. Here is a billet of 
wood, the circumference of which is about that of the 
throat. Wrap the drawing around it, and try the experi- 
ment again." 

I did so ; but the difficulty was even more obvious 
than before. "This," I said, "is the mark of no human 
hand." 

" Read now," replied Dupin, " this passage from 
Cuvier." 

It was a minute anatomical and generally descriptive 
account of the large fulvous Ourang-Outang of the East 
Indian Islands. The gigantic stature, the prodigious 
strength and activity, the wild ferocity, and the imitative 
propensities of these mammalia are sufficiently well 
known to all. I understood the full horrors of the 
murder at once. 

" The description of the digits," said I, as I made an 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 303 

end of the reading, " is in exact accordance with this 
drawing. I see that no animal but an Ourang-Outang, of 
the species here mentioned, could have impressed the in- 
dentations as you have traced them. This tuft of tawny 
hair, too, is identical in character with that of the beast 
of Cuvier. But I cannot possibly comprehend the par- 
ticulars of this frightful mystery. Besides, there were 
two voices heard in contention, and one of them was un- 
questionably the voice of a Frenchman." 

" True ; and you will remember an expression attrib- 
uted almost unanimously, by the evidence, to this voice, 
— the expression, ' mon Dien ! ' This, under the circum- 
stances, has been justly characterized by one of the wit- 
nesses (Montani, the confectioner) as an expression of 
remonstrance or expostulation. Upon these two words, 
therefore, I have mainly built my hopes of a full solution 
of the riddle. A Frenchman was cognizant of the mur- 
der. It is possible — indeed it is far more than probable — 
that he was innocent of all participation in the bloody 
transactions which took place. The Ourang-Outang may 
have escaped from him. He may have traced it to the 
chamber; but, under the agitating circumstances which 
ensued, he could never have recaptured it. It is still at 
large. I will not pursue these guesses — for I have no 
right to call them more — since the shades of reflection 
upon which they are based are scarcely of sufficient depth 
to be appreciable by my own intellect, and since I could 
not pretend to make them intelligible to the understand- 



304 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

ing of another. We will call them guesses, then, and 
speak of them as such. If the Frenchman in question is 
indeed, as I suppose, innocent of this atrocity, this adver- 
tisement, which I left last night, upon our return home, 
at the office of Le Monde (a paper devoted to the shipping 
interest, and much sought by sailors), will bring him to 
our residence." 

He handed me a paper, and I read thus: 

" CAUGHT — In the Bois de Boulogne ', early in the morning 

of the inst. (the morning of the murder), a very large, 

tawny Ourang-Outang of the Borne se species. The owner 
{who is ascertained to be a sailor, belonging to a Maltese 
vessel) may have the animal again, upon identifying it sat- 
isfactorily, and paying a few charges arising from its cap- 
ture and keeping. Call at No. Rue , Faubourg 

St. Germain — au troisieme. ,i 

" How was it possible," I asked, " that you should 
know the man to be a sailor, and belonging to a Maltese 
vessel ? " 

" I do not know it," said Dupin. " I am not sure of it. 
Here, however, is a small piece of ribbon, which from its 
form, and from its greasy appearance, has evidently been 
used in tying the hair in one of those long queues of which 
sailors are so fond. Moreover, this knot is one which few 
besides sailors can tie, and is peculiar to the Maltese. I 
picked the ribbon up at the foot of the lightning-rod. It 
could not have belonged to either of the deceased. Now 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 305 

if, after all, I am wrong in my induction from this ribbon, 
that the Frenchman was a sailor belonging to a Maltese 
vessel, still I can have done no harm in saying what I did 
in the advertisement. If I am in error, he will merely 
suppose that I have been misled by some circumstance 
into which he will not take the trouble to inquire. But if 
I am right, a great point is gained. Cognizant although 
innocent of the murder, the Frenchman will naturally 
hesitate about replying to the advertisement — about 
demanding the Ourang-Outang. He will reason thus : — 
' I am innocent ; I am poor ; my Ourang-Outang is of 
great value — to one in my circumstances a fortune of it- 
self — why should I lose it through idle apprehensions 
of danger? Here it is, within my grasp. It was found in 
the Bois de Boulogne — at a vast distance from the scene 
of that butchery. How can it ever be suspected that a 
brute beast should have done the deed ? The police are 
at fault — they have failed to procure the slightest clew. 
Should they even trace the animal, it would be impossible 
to prove me cognizant of the murder, or to implicate me 
in guilt on account of that cognizance. Above all, I am 
known. The advertiser designates me as the possessor of 
the beast. I am not sure to what limit his knowledge 
may extend. Should I avoid claiming a property of 
so great value, which it is known that I possess, I will 
render the animal at least, liable to suspicion. It is not 
my policy to attract attention either to myself or to the 
beast. I will answer the advertisement, get the Ourang- 



3°6 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

Outang, and keep it close until this matter has blown i 
over/ " 

At this moment we heard a step upon the stairs. 

" Be ready," said Dupin, " with your pistols, but 
neither use them nor show them until at a signal from 1 
myself." 

The front door of the house had been left open, and the 
visitor had entered, without ringing, and advanced several 
steps upon the staircase. Now, however, he seemed to 
hesitate. Presently we heard him descending. Dupin 
was moving quickly to the door, when we again heard him 
coming up. He did not turn back a second time, but 
stepped up with decision, and rapped at the door of our 
chamber. 

" Come in," said Dupin, in a cheerful and hearty tone. 

A man entered. He was a sailor, evidently, — a tall, 
stout, and muscular-looking person, with a certain dare- 
devil expression of countenance, not altogether unpre- 
possessing. His face, greatly sunburnt, was more than 
half hidden by whisker and mustachio. He had with him 
a huge oaken cudgel, but appeared to be otherwise un- 
armed. He bowed awkwardly, and bade us " good even- 
ing," in French accents, which, although somewhat Neuf- 
chatelish, were still sufficiently indicative of a "Parisian 
origin. 

" Sit down, my friend," said Dupin. " I suppose you 
have called about the Ourang-Outang. Upon my word, 
I almost envy you the possession of him ; a remarkably 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 2>°7 

fine, and no doubt a very valuable animal. How old do 
you suppose him to be?" 

The sailor drew a long breath, with the air of a man 
relieved of some intolerable burden, and then replied, in 
an assured tone : 

" I have no way of telling — but he can't be more than 
four or five years old. Have you got him here ? " 

" Oh, no ; we had no conveniences for keeping him 
here. He is at a livery stable in the Rue Dubourg, just 
by. You can get him in the morning. Of course you are 
prepared to identify the property ? " 

" To be sure I am, sir." 

" I shall be sorry to part with him," said Dupin. 

" I don't mean that you should be at all this trouble for 
nothing, sir," said the man. " Could n't expect it. Am 
very willing to pay a reward for the finding of the animal 
— that is to say, any thing in reason." 

"Well," replied my friend, "that is all very fair, to 
be sure. Let me think ! — what should I have ? Oh ! I 
will tell you. My reward shall be this. You shall give 
me all the information in your power about these murders 
in the Rue Morgue." 

Dupin said the last words in a very low tone, and very 
quietly. Just as quietly, too, he walked toward the door, 
locked it, and put the key in his pocket. He then drew 
a pistol from his bosom and placed it, without the least 
flurry, upon the table. 

The sailor's face flushed up as if he were struggling with 



308 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

suffocation. He started to his feet and grasped his 
cudgel ; but the next moment he fell back into his seat, 
trembling violently, and with the countenance of death 
itself. He spoke not a word. I pitied him from the bottom 
of my heart. 

" My friend," said Dupin, in a kind tone, " you are 
alarming yourself unnecessarily — you are indeed. We 
mean you no harm whatever. I pledge you the honor of 
a gentleman, and of a Frenchman, that we intend you no 
injury. I perfectly well know that you are innocent of 
the atrocities in the Rue Morgue. It will not do, how- 
ever, to deny that you are in some measure implicated in 
them. From what I have already said, you must know 
that I have had means of information about this matter — 
means of which you could never have dreamed. Now the 
thing stands thus. You have done nothing which you 
could have avoided — nothing, certainly, which renders 
you culpable. You were not even guilty of robbery, 
when you might have robbed with impunity. You have 
nothing to conceal. You have no reason for concealment. 
On the other hand, you are bound by every principle of 
honor to confess all you know. An innocent man is now 
imprisoned, charged with that crime of which y6*u can 
point out the perpetrator." 

The sailor had recovered his presence of mind, in a great 
measure, while Dupin uttered these words ; but his origi- 
nal boldness of bearing was all gone. 

11 So help me God ! " said he, after a brief pause, " I will 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 309 

tell you all I know about this affair ; — but I do not expect 
you to believe one half I say — I would be a fool indeed if 
I did. Still, I am innocent, and I will make a clean breast 
if I die for it." 

What he stated was, in substance, this. He had lately 
made a voyage to the Indian Archipelago. A party, of 
which he formed one, landed at Borneo, and passed into 
the interior on an excursion of pleasure. Himself and a 
companion had captured the Ourang-Outang. This com- 
panion dying, the animal fell into his own exclusive pos- 
session. After great trouble, occasioned by the intracta- 
ble ferocity of his captive during the home voyage, he at 
length succeeded in lodging it safely at his own residence 
in Paris, where, not to attract toward himself the unpleas- 
ant curiosity of his neighbors, he kept it carefully secluded, 
until such time as it should recover from a wound in the 
foot, received from a splinter on board ship. His ulti- 
mate design was to sell it. 

Returning home from some sailors' frolic on the night, 
or rather in the morning, of the murder, he found the 
beast occupying his own bedroom, into which it had 
broken from a closet adjoining, where it had been, as was 
thought, securely confined. Razor in hand, and fully 
lathered, it was sitting before a looking-glass, attempting 
the operation of shaving, in which it had no doubt pre- 
viously watched its master through the key-hole of the 
closet. Terrified at the sight of so dangerous a weapon 
in the possession of an animal so ferocious, and so well 



310 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

able to use it, the man, for some moments, was at a loss 
what to do. He had been accustomed, however, to quiet 
the creature, even in its fiercest moods, by the use of a 
whip, and to this he now resorted. Upon sight of it, the 
Ourang-Outang sprang at once through the door of the 
chamber, down the stairs, and thence, through a window, 
unfortunately open, into the street. 

The Frenchman followed in despair ; the ape, razor still 
in hand, occasionally stopping to look back and gesticu- 
late at his pursuer, until the latter had nearly come up 
with it. It then again made off. In this manner the 
chase continued for a long time. The streets were pro- 
foundly quiet, as it was nearly three o'clock in the morn- 
ing. In passing down an alley in the rear of the Rue 
Morgue, the fugitive's attention was arrested by a light 
gleaming from the open window of Madame L' Espanaye's 
chamber, in the fourth story of her house. Rushing to 
the building, it perceived the lightning-rod, clambered up 
with inconceivable agility, grasped the shutter, which was 
thrown fully back against the wall, and, by its means, 
swung itself directly upon the headboard of the bed. The 
whole feat did not occupy a minute. The shutter was 
kicked open again by the Ourang-Outang as it entered 
the room. 

The sailor, in the meantime, was both rejoiced and per- 
plexed. He had strong hopes of now recapturing the 
brute, as it could scarcely escape from the trap into which 
it had ventured, except by the rod, where it might be in- 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 31 1 

tercepted as it came down. On the other hand, there was 
much cause for anxiety as to what it might do in the 
house. This latter reflection urged the man still to follow 
the fugitive. A lightning-rod is ascended without difficulty, 
especially by a sailor ; but, when he had arrived as high 
as the window, which lay far to his left, his career was 
stopped ; the most that he could accomplish was to reach 
over so as to obtain a glimpse of the interior of the room. 
At this glimpse he nearly fell from his hold through ex- 
cess of horror. Now it was that those hideous shrieks 
arose upon the night, which had startled from slumber the 
inmates of the Rue Morgue. Madame L/ Espanaye and 
her daughter, habited in their night clothes, had appar- 
ently been occupied in arranging some papers in the iron 
chest already mentioned, which had been wheeled into the 
middle of the room. It was open, and its contents lay 
beside it on the floor. The victims must have been sit- 
ting with their backs toward the window ; and, from the 
time elapsing between the ingress of the beast and the 
-creams, it seems probable that it was not immediately 
perceived. The flapping-to of the shutter would naturally 
have been attributed to the wind. 

As the sailor looked in, the gigantic animal had seized 
Madame L' Espanaye by the hair (which was loose, as she 
had been combing it), and was flourishing the razor about 
h.:r face, in imitation of the motions of a barber. The 
daughter lay prostrate and motionless ; she had swooned. 
The screams and struggles of the old lady (during which 
the hair was torn from her head) had the effect of chang- 



3 J 2 ' THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 

ing the probably pacific purposes of the Ourang-Outang 
into those of wrath. With one determined sweep of its 
muscular arm it nearly severed her head from her body. 
The sight of blood inflamed its anger into phrensy. 
Gnashing its teeth, and flashing fire from its eyes, it flew 
upon the body of the girl, and imbedded its fearful talons 
in her throat, retaining its grasp until she expired. Its 
wandering and wild glances fell at this moment upon the 
head of the bed, over which the face of its master, rigid 
with horror, was just discernible. The fury of the beast, 
who no doubt bore still in mind the dreaded whip, was 
instantly converted into fear. Conscious of having de- 
served punishment, it seemed desirous of concealing its 
bloody deeds, and skipped about the chamber in an agony 
of nervous agitation ; throwing down and breaking the 
furniture as it moved, and dragging the bed from the bed- 
stead. In conclusion, it seized first the corpse of the 
the daughter, and thrust it up the chimney, as it was 
found ; then that of the old lady, which it immediately 
hurled through the window headlong. 

As the ape approached the casement with its mutilated 
burden, the sailor shrank aghast to the rod, and, rather 
gliding than clambering down it, hurried at once home — 
dreading the consequences of the butchery, and gladly 
abandoning, in his terror, all solicitude about the fate of 
the Ourang-Outang. The words heard by the party upon 
the staircase were the Frenchman's exclamations of hor- 
ror and affright, commingled with the fiendish jabberings 
of the brute. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 3 I 3 

I have scarcely any thing to add. The Ourang-Outang 
must have escaped from the chamber, by the rod, just 

before the breaking of the door. It must have closed the 

) 

'window as it passed through it. It was subsequently 

caught by the owner himself, who obtained for it a very 
large sum at the Jardin des Plantes. Le Bon was in- 
stantly released, upon our narration of the circumstances 
(with some comments from Dupin) at the bureau of the 
Prefect of Police. This functionary, however well dis- 
posed to my friend, could not altogether conceal his cha- 
grin at the turn which affairs had taken, and was fain to 
indulge in a sarcasm or two about the propriety of every 
person minding his own business. 

" Let him talk," said Dupin, who had not thought it 
necessary to reply. " Let him discourse ; it will ease his 
conscience. I am satisfied with having defeated him in 
his own castle. Nevertheless, that he failed in the solu- 
tion of this mystery, is by no means that matter for won- 
der which he supposes it ; for, in truth, our friend the 
Prefect is somewhat too cunning to be profound. In his 
wisdom is no stamen. It is all head and no body, like the 
pictures of the Goddess Laverna — or, at best, all head 
and shoulders, like a codfish. But he is a good creature 
after all. I like him especially for one master-stroke of 
cant, by which he has attained his reputation for inge- 
nuity. I mean the way he has ' de nier ce qui est, et d'expli- 
quer ce qui nest pas .' "* 

* Rousseau — Nouvelle Heloise. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET* 



A SEQUEL TO " THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE. 



Es giebt eine Reihe idealischer Begebenheiten, die der Wirklichkeit parallel 
lauft. Selten fallen sie zusammen. Menschen und zufalle modificiren 
gewohulich die idealische Begenbenheit, so dass sie unvollkommen ers- 
cheint, und ihre Folgen gleichfalls unvollkommen sind. So bei der Ref- 
ormation ; statt des Protestantismus kam das Lutherthum hervor. 

There are ideal series of events which run parallel with the real ones. They 
rarely coincide. Men and circumstances generally modify the ideal train 
of events, so that it seems imperfect, and its consequences are equally im- 
perfect. Thus with the Reformation ; instead of Protestantism came 
Lutheranism. — Novalis.f Moral Ansichten. 

THERE are few persons, even among the calmest 
thinkers, who have not occasionally been startled 
into a vague yet thrilling half-credence in the supernatural, 
by coincidences of so seemingly marvellous a character that, 
as mere coincidences, the intellect has been unable to re- 
ceive them. Such sentiments — for the half-credences of 



* Upon the original publication of "Marie Roget," the foot-notes now 
appended were considered unnecessary ; but the lapse of several years since 
the tragedy upon which the tale is based, renders it expedient to give them, 
and also to say a few words in explanation of the general design. A young 
girl, Mary Cecilia Rogers, was murdered in the vicinity of New York ; and 

\ The nom de plume of Von Hardenburg. 



314 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 315 

which I speak have never the full force of thought — such 
sentiments are seldom thoroughly stifled unless by refer- 
ence to the doctrine of chance, or, as it is technically termed, 
the Calculus of Probabilities. Now this Calculus is, in its 
essence, purely mathematical ; and thus we have the 
anomaly of the most rigidly exact in science applied to 
the shadow and spirituality of the most intangible in 
speculation. 

The extraordinary details which I am now called upon 
to make public, will be found to form, as regards sequence 
of time, the primary branch of a series of scarcely intelli- 
gible coincidences, whose secondary or concluding branch 
will be recognized by all readers in the late murder of 
Mary Cecilia Rogers, at New York. 

When, in an article entitled " The Murders in the Rue 
Morgue," I endeavored, about a year ago, to depict some 
very remarkable features in the mental character of my 

although her death occasioned an intense and long-enduring excitement, the 
mysteiy attending it had remained unsolved at the period when the present 
paper was written and published (November, 1842). Herein, under pretence 
of relating the fate of a Parisian grisette y the author has followed, in minute 
detail, the essential, while merely paralleling the inessential, facts of the real 
murder of Mary Rogers. Thus all argument founded upon the fiction is ap- 
plicable to the truth : and the investigation of the truth was the object. 

The "Mystery of Marie Roget " was composed at a distance from the 
scene of the atrocity, and with no other means of investigation than the 
newspapers afforded. Thus much escaped the writer of which he could have 
availed himself had he been upon the spot and visited the localities. It 
may not be improper to record, nevertheless, that the confessions of two 
persons (one of them the Madame Deluc of the narrative), made, at different 
periods, long subsequent to the publication, confirmed, in full, not only the 
general conclusion, but absolutely all the chief hypothetical details by which 
that conclusion was attained. 



3l6 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROCET 

friend, the Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin, it did not occur to 
me that I should ever resume the subject. This depicting 
of character constituted my design ; and this design was 
thoroughly fulfilled in the wild train of circumstances 
brought to instance Dupin's idiosyncrasy. I might have 
adduced other examples, but I should have proven no 
more. Late events, however, in their surprising develop- 
ment, have startled me into some further details, which 
will carry with them the air of extorted confession. Hear- 
ing what I have lately heard, it would be indeed strange 
should I remain silent in regard to what I both heard and 
saw so long ago. 

Upon the winding up of the tragedy involved in the 
deaths of Madame L' Espanaye and her daughter, the 
Chevalier dismissed the affair at once from his attention, 
and relapsed into his old habits of moody revery. Prone, 
at all times, to abstraction, I readily fell in with his 
humor ; and continuing to occupy our chambers in the 
Faubourg Saint Germain, we gave the Future to the 
winds, and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving 
the dull world around us into dreams. 

But these dreams were not altogether uninterrupted. 
It may readily be supposed that the part played by my 
friend, in the drama at the Rue Morgue, had not failed 
of its impression upon the fancies of the Parisian police. 
With its emissaries, the name of Dupin had grown into a 
household word. The simple character of those induc- 
tions by which he had disentangled the mystery never 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 317 

having been explained even to the Prefect, or to any 
other individual than myself, of course it is not surprising 
that the affair was regarded as little less than miraculous, 
or that the Chevalier's analytical abilities acquired for 
him the credit of intuition. His frankness would have 
led him to disabuse every inquirer of such prejudice ; but 
his indolent humor forbade all further agitation of a topic 
whose interest to himself had long ceased. It thus hap- 
pened that he found himself the cynosure of the policial 
eyes ; and the cases were not few in which attempt was 
made to engage his services at the Prefecture. One of 
the most remarkable instances was that of the murder of 
a young girl named Marie Roget. 

This event occurred about two years after the atrocity 
in the Rue Morgue. Marie, whose Christian and family 
name will at once arrest attention from their resemblance 
to those of the unfortunate " cigar-girl," was the only 
daughter of the widow Estelle Roget. The father had 
died during the child's infancy, and from the period of 
his death, until within eighteen months before the assassi- 
nation which forms the subject of our narrative, the 
mother and daughter had dwelt together in the Rue 
Pavee Saint Andree* ; Madame there keeping a pension, 
assisted by Marie. Affairs went on thus until the latter had 
attained her twenty-second year, when her great beauty 
attracted the notice of a perfumer, who occupied one of 
the shops in the basement of the Palais Royal, and whose 

* Nassau Street. 



3l8 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

custom lay chiefly among the desperate adventurers 
infesting that neighborhood. Monsieur Le Blanc * was 
not unaware of the advantages to be derived from the 
attendance of the fair Marie in his perfumery ; and his 
liberal proposals were accepted eagerly by the girl, 
although with somewhat more of hesitation by Madame. 
The anticipations of the shopkeeper were realized, and 
his rooms soon became notorious through the charms of 
the sprightly grisette. She had been in his employ about 
a year, when her admirers were thrown into confusion by 
her sudden disappearance from the shop. Monsieur Le 
Blanc was unable to account for her absence, and Madame 
Roget was distracted with anxiety and terror. The pub- 
lic papers immediately took up the theme, and the police 
were upon the point of making serious investigations, 
when, one fine morning, after the lapse of a week, Marie, 
in good health, but with a somewhat saddened air, made 
her re-appearance at her usual counter in the perfumery. 
All inquiry, except that of a private character, was of 
course, immediately hushed. Monsieur Le Blanc pro- 
fessed total ignorance, as before. Marie, with Madame, 
replied to all questions, that the last week had been spent 
at the house of a relation in the country. Thus the affair 
died away, and was generally forgotten ; for the girl, 
ostensibly to relieve herself from the impertinence of 
curiosity, soon bade a final adieu to the perfumer, and 
sought the shelter of her mother's residence in the Rue 
Pavee Saint Andr6e. 
* Anderson.' 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 319 

It was about five months after this return home, that 
her friends were alarmed by her sudden disappearance for 
the second time. Three days elapsed, and nothing was 
heard of her. On the fourth her corpse was found floating 
in the Seine,* near the shore which is opposite the Quar- 
tier of the Rue Saint Andree, and at a point not very far 
distant from the secluded neighborhood of the Barriere 
du Roule.f 

The atrocity of this murder (for it was at once evident 
that murder had been committed), the youth and beauty 
of the victim, and, above all, her previous notoriety, con- 
spired to produce intense excitement in the minds of the 
sensitive Parisians. I can call to mind no similar occur- 
rence producing so general and so intense an effect. For 
several weeks, in the discussion of this one absorbing 
theme, even the momentous political topics of the day 
were forgotten. The Prefect made unusual exertions ; 
and the powers of the whole Parisian police were, of 
course, tasked to the utmost extent. 

Upon the first discovery of the corpse, it was not supposed 
that the murderer would be able to elude, for more than 
a very brief period, the inquisition which was immediately 
set on foot. It was not until the expiration of a week that 
it was deemed necessary to offer a reward ; and even then 
this reward was limited to a thousand francs. In the 
meantime the investigation proceeded with vigor, if not 

* The Hudson. 
f Weehawken. 



320 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

always with judgment, and numerous individuals were ex- 
amined to no purpose ; while, owing to the continual 
absence of all clew to the mystery, the popular excitement 
greatly increased. At the end of the tenth day it was 
thought advisable to double the sum originally proposed ; 
and, at length, the second week having elapsed without 
leading to any discoveries, and the prejudice which always 
exists in Paris against the police having given vent to 
itself in several serious tmeutes, the Prefect took it upon 
himself to offer the sum of twenty thousand francs " for the 
conviction of the assassin," or, if more than one should prove 
to have been implicated, " for the conviction of any one of 
the assassins." In the proclamation setting forth this re- 
ward, a full pardon was promised to any accomplice who 
should come forward in evidence against his fellow ; and 
to the whole was appended, wherever it appeared, the 
private placard of a committee of citizens, offering ten 
thousand francs, in addition to the amount proposed by 
the Prefecture. The entire reward thus stood at no less 
than thirty thousand francs, which will be regarded as an 
extraordinary sum when we consider the humble condition 
of the girl, and the great frequency, in large cities, of such 
atrocities as the one described. 

No one doubted now that the mystery of this murder 
would be immediately brought to light. But although, 
in one or two instances, arrests were made which promised 
elucidation, yet nothing was elicited which could implicate 
the parties suspected ; and they were discharged forth- 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET 32 1 

with. Strange as it may appear, the third week from the 
discovery of the body had passed, and passed without any 
light being thrown upon the subject, before even a rumor 
of the events which had so agitated the public mind 
reached the ears of Dupin and myself. Engaged in re- 
searches which had absorbed our whole attention, it had 
been nearly a month since either of us had gone abroad, 
or received a visitor, or more than glanced at the leading 
political articles in one of the daily papers. The first in- 
telligence of the murder was brought us by G , in 

person. He called upon us early in the afternoon of the 
thirteenth of July, 18 — , and remained with us until late 
in the night. He had been piqued by the failure of all 
his endeavors to ferret out the assassins. His reputation 
— so he said with a peculiarly Parisian air — was at stake. 
Even his honor was concerned. The eyes of the public 
were upon him ; and there was really no sacrifice which 
he would not be willing to make for the development of 
the mystery. He concluded a somewhat droll speech 
with a compliment upon what he was pleased to term the 
tact of Dupin, and made him a direct and certainly a 
liberal proposition, the precise nature of which I do not 
feel myself at liberty to disclose, but which has no bearing 
upon the proper subject of my narrative. 

The compliment my friend rebutted as best he could, 
but the proposition he accepted at once, although its 
advantages were altogether provisional. This point being 
settled, the Prefect broke forth at once into explanations 



322 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

of his own views, interspersing them with long comments 
upon the evidence ; of which latter we were not yet in 
possession. He discoursed much and, beyond doubt, 
learnedly ; while I hazarded an occasional suggestion as 
the night wore drowsily away. Dupin, sitting steadily in 
his accustomed arm-chair, was the embodiment of respect- 
ful attention. He wore spectacles, during the whole in- 
terview ; and an occasional glance beneath their green 
glasses sufficed to convince me that he slept not the less 
soundly, because silently, throughout the seven or eight 
leaden-footed hours which immediately preceded the de- 
parture of the Prefect. 

In the morning, I procured, at the Prefecture, a full 
report of all the evidence elicited, and, at the various 
newspaper offices, a copy of every paper in which, from 
first to last, had been published any decisive information 
in regard to this sad affair. Freed from all that was posi- 
tively disproved, this mass of information stood thus : 

Marie Roget left the residence of her mother, in the 
Rue Pav£e St. Andree, about nine o'clock in the morning 
of Sunday, June the twenty-second, 18 — . In going out, 
she gave notice to a Monsieur Jacques St. Eustache, * 
and to him only, of her intention to spend the day with 
an aunt, who resided in the Rue des Dromes. The Rue 
des Dromes is a short and narrow but populous thorough- 
fare, not far from the banks of the river, and at a distance 
of some two miles, in the most direct course possible, 

* Payne. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 323 

from the pension of Madame Roget. St. Eustache was 
the accepted suitor of Marie, and lodged, as well as took 
his meals, at the pension. He was to have gone for his 
betrothed at dusk, and to have escorted her home. In 
the afternoon, however, it came on to rain heavily ; and, 
supposing that she would remain all night at her aunt's 
(as she had done under similar circumstances before), he 
did not think it necessary to keep his promise. As night 
drew on, Madame Roget (who was an infirm old lady, 
seventy years of age) was heard to express a fear " that 
she should never see Marie again " ; but this observation 
attracted little attention at the time. 

On Monday it was ascertained that the girl had not 
been to the Rue des Dromes ; and when the day elapsed 
without tidings of her, a tardy search was instituted at 
several points in the city and its environs. It was not, 
however, until the fourth day from the period of her 
disappearance that any thing satisfactory was ascertained 
respecting her. On this day (Wednesday, the twenty- 
fifth of June) a Monsieur Beauvais,* who, with a friend, 
had been making inquiries for Marie near the Barriere du 
Roule, on the shore of the Seine which is opposite the 
Rue Pavee St. Andree, was informed that a corpse had 
just been towed ashore by some fishermen, who had found 
it floating in the river. Upon seeing the body, Beauvais, 
after some hesitation, identified it as that of the per- 
fumery-girl. His friend recognized it more promptly. 

* Crommelin. 



324 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

The face was suffused with dark blood, some of which 
issued from the mouth. No foam was seen, as in the case 
of the merely drowned. There was no discoloration in 
the cellular tissue. About the throat were bruises and 
impressions of fingers. The arms were bent over on the 
chest, and were rigid. The right hand was clenched ; the 
left partially open. On the left wrist were two circular 
excoriations, apparently the effect of ropes, or of a rope 
in more than one volution. A part of the right wrist, 
also, was much chafed, as well as the back throughout its 
extent, but more especially at the shoulder-blades. In 
bringing the body to the shore the fishermen had at- 
tached to it a rope, but none of the excoriations had 
been effected by this. The flesh of the neck was much 
swollen. There were no cuts apparent, or bruises which 
appeared the effect of blows. A piece of lace was found 
tied so tightly around the neck as to be hidden from 
sight ; it was completely buried in the flesh, and was 
fastened by a knot which lay just under the left ear. 
This alone would have sufficed to produce death. The 
medical testimony spoke confidently of the virtuous char- 
acter of the deceased. She had been subjected, it said, 
to brutal violence. The corpse was in such condition 
when found, that there could have been no difficulty in 
its recognition by friends. 

The dress was much torn and otherwise disordered. 
In the outer garment, a slip, about a foot wide, had been 
torn upward from the bottom hem to the waist, but not 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 325 

torn off. It was wound three times around the waist, 
and secured by a sort of hitch in the back. The dress 
immediately beneath the frock was of fine muslin ; and 
from this a slip eighteen inches wide had been torn 
entirely out — torn very evenly and with great care. It 
was found around her neck, fitting loosely, and secured 
with a hard knot. Over this muslin slip and the slip of 
lace the strings of a bonnet were attached, the bonnet 
being appended. The knot by which the strings of the 
bonnet were fastened was not a lady's, but a slip or 
sailor's knot. 

After the recognition of the corpse, it was not, as usual, 
taken to the Morgue (this formality being superfluous), 
but hastily interred not far from the spot at which it was 
brought ashore. Through the exertions of Beauvais, the 
matter was industriously hushed up, as far as possible ; 
and several days had elapsed before any public emotion 
resulted. A weekly paper,* however, at length took up 
the theme ; the corpse was disinterred, and a re-examina- 
tion instituted ; but nothing was elicited beyond what 
has been already noted. The clothes, however, were 
now submitted to the mother and friends of the deceased, 
and fully identified as those worn by the girl upon leav- 
ing home. 

Meantime, the excitement increased hourly. Several 
individuals were arrested and discharged. St. Eustache 
fell especially under suspicion ; and he failed, at first, to 

* The New York Mercury. 



326 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

give an intelligible account of his whereabouts during the 
Sunday on which Marie left home. Subsequently, how- 
ever, he submitted to Monsieur G , affidavits, account- 
ing satisfactorily for every hour of the day in question. 
As time passed and no discovery ensued, a thousand con- 
tradictory rumors were circulated, and journalists busied 
themselves in suggestions. Among these, the one which 
attracted the most notice, was the idea that Marie Roget 
still lived — that the corpse found in the Seine was that of 
some other unfortunate. It will be proper that I submit 
to the reader some passages which embody the suggestion 
alluded to. These passages are literal translations from 
L Etoile* a paper conducted, in general, with much 
ability. 

" Mademoiselle Roget left her mother's house on Sunday 
morning, June the twenty-second, 18 — , with the ostensible 
purpose of going to see her aunt, or some other connection, in 
the Rue des Dromes. From that hour, nobody is proved to 
have seen her. There is no trace or tidings of her at all. 
* * * There has no person, whatever, come forward, so far, 
who saw her at all, on that day, after she left her mother's 
door. * * * Now, though we have no evidence that Marie 
Roget was in the land of the living after nine o'clock on Sun- 
day, June the twenty-second, we have proof that, up to that 
hour, she was alive. On Wednesday noon, at twelve, a female 
body was discovered afloat on the shore of the Barriere du 
Roule. This was, even if we presume that Marie Roget was 

* The New York Brother Jonathan, edited by H. Hastings Weld, Esq. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 327 

thrown into the river within three hours after she left her 
mother's house, only three days from the time she left her 
home — three days to an hour. But it is folly to suppose that 
the murder, if murder was committed on her body, could have 
been consummated soon enough to have enabled her murderers 
to throw the body into the river before midnight. Those who 
are guilty of such horrid crimes choose darkness rather than 
light. * * * Thus we see that if the body found in the river 
was that of Marie Roget, it could only have been in the water 
two and a half days, or three at the outside. All experience 
has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the 
water immediately after death by violence, require from six to 
ten days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring 
them to the top of the water. Even where a cannon is fired 
over a corpse, and it rises before at least five or six days' im- 
mersion, it sinks again, if let alone. Now, we ask, what was 
there in this case to cause a departure from the ordinary 
course of nature ? * * * If the body had been kept in its 
mangled state on shore until Tuesday night, some trace would 
be found on shore of the murderers. It is a doubtful point, 
also, whether the body would be so soon afloat, even were it 
thrown in after having been dead two days. And, furthermore, 
it is exceedingly improbable that any villains who had com- 
mitted such a murder as is here supposed, would have thrown 
the body in without weight to sink it, when such a precaution 
could have so easily been taken." 

The editor here proceeds to argue that the body must 
have been in the water " not three days merely, but, at 
least, five times three days," because it was so far decom- 



328 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

posed that Beauvais had great difficulty in recognizing it. 
This latter point, however, was fully disproved. I con- 
tinue the translation : 

" What, then, are the facts on which M. Beauvais says that 
he has no doubt the body was that of Marie Roget ? He 
ripped up the gown sleeve, and says he found marks which 
satisfied him of the identity. The public generally supposed 
those marks to have consisted of some description of scars. He 
rubbed the arm and found hair upon it — something as indefi- 
nite, we think, as can readily be imagined — as little conclusive 
as finding an arm in the sleeve. M. Beauvais did not return 
that night, but sent word to Madame Roget, at seven o'clock, 
on Wednesday evening, that an investigation was still in prog- 
ress respecting her daughter. If we allow that Madame Ro- 
get, from her age and grief, could not go over (which is allow- 
ing a great deal), there certainly must have been someone who 
would have thought it worth while to go over and attend the 
investigation, if they thought the body was that of Marie. 
Nobody went over. There was nothing said or heard about 
the matter in the Rue Pavee St. Andree, that reached even the 
occupants of the same building. M. St. Eustache, the lover 
and intended husband of Marie, who boarded in her mother's 
house, deposes that he did not hear of the discovery of the 
body of his intended until the next morning, when M. Beau- 
vais came into his chamber and told him of it. For an item 
of news like this, it strikes us it was very coolly received." 

In this way the journal endeavored to create the impres- 
sion of an apathy on the part of the relatives of Marie, 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 329 

inconsistent with the supposition that these relatives be- 
lieved the corpse to be hers. Its insinuations amount to 
this : that Marie, with the connivance of her friends, had 
absented herself from the city for reasons involving a 
charge against her chastity ; and that these friends upon 
the discovery of a corpse in the Seine, somewhat resem- 
bling that of the girl, had availed themselves of the op- 
portunity to impress the public with the belief of her 
death. But L Etoile was again over-hasty. It was dis- 
tinctly proved that no apathy, such as was imagined, ex- 
isted ; that the old lady was exceedingly feeble, and so 
agitated as to be unable to attend to any duty ; that St. 
Eustache, so far from receiving the news coolly, was dis- 
tracted with grief, and bore himself so frantically, that M. 
Beauvais prevailed upon a friend and relative to take 
charge of him, and prevent his attending the examination 
at the disinterment. Moreover, although it was stated by 
L Etoile, that the corpse was re-interred at the public ex- 
pense, that an advantageous offer of private sepulture 
was absolutely declined by the family, and that no mem- 
ber of the family attended the ceremonial ; — although, I 
say, all this was asserted by L Etoile in furtherance of 
the impression it designed to convey — yet all this was 
satisfactorily disproved. In a subsequent number of the 
paper, an attempt was made to throw suspicion upon Beau- 
vais himself. The editor says : 

" Now, then, a change comes over the matter. We are told 
that, on one occasion, while a Madame B was at Madame 



330 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

Roget's house, M. Beauvais, who was going out, told her that 
a gendarme was expected there, and that she, Madame B., must 
not say any thing to the gendarme until he returned, but let the 
matter be for him. * * * In the present posture of af- 
fairs, M. Beauvais appears to have the whole matter locked up 
in his head. A single step cannot be taken without M. Beau- 
vais, for, go which way you will, you run against him. * * * 
For some reason he determined that nobody shall have any 
thing to do with the proceedings but himself, and he has el- 
bowed the male relatives out of the way, according to their 
representations, in a very singular manner. He seems to have 
been very much averse to permitting the relatives to see the 
body." 

By the following fact, some color was given to the sus- 
picion thus thrown upon Beauvais. A visitor at his office, 
a few days prior to the girl's disappearance, and during 
the absence of its occupant, had observed a rose in the 
key-hole of the door, and the name " Marie " inscribed 
upon a slate which hung near at hand. 

The general impression, so far as we were enabled to 
glean it from the newspapers, seemed to be, that Marie 
had been the victim of a gang of desperadoes — that by 
these she had been borne across the river, maltreated, and 
murdered. Le Commerciel* however, a print of exten- 
sive influence, was earnest in combating this popular 
idea. I quote a passage or two from its columns : 

" We are persuaded that pursuit has hitherto been on a false 
* New York Journal of Commerce. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 33 I 

scent, so far as it has been directed to the Barriere du Roule. It 
is impossible that a person so well known to thousands as this 
young woman was, should have passed three blocks without 
some one having seen her ; and any one who saw her would 
have remembered it, for she interested all who knew her. It 
was when the streets were full of people, when she went out. 
* * * It is impossible that she could have gone to the Barriere 
du Roule, or to the Rue des Dromes, without being recognized 
by a dozen persons ; yet no one has come forward who saw 
her outside her mother's door, and there is no evidence, ex- 
cept the testimony concerning her expressed intentions, that she 
did go out at all. Her gown was torn, bound round her, and 
tied ; and by that the body was carried as a bundle. If the 
murder had been committed at the Barriere du Roule, there 
would have been no necessity for any such arrangement. The 
fact that the body was found floating near the Barriere, is no 
proof as to where it was thrown into the water. * * * A 
piece of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats, two feet long 
and one foot wide, was torn out and tied under her chin 
around the back of her head, probably to prevent screams. 
This was done by fellows who had no pocket-handkerchief." 

A day or two before the Prefect called upon us, how- 
ever, some important information reached the police, 
which seemed to overthrow, at least, the chief portion of 
Le CommercieVs argument. Two small boys, sons of a 
Madame Deluc, while roaming among the woods near 
the Barriere du Roule, chanced to penetrate a close thicket, 
within which were three or four large stones, forming a 



33 2 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

kind of seat with a back and footstool. On the upper 
stone lay a white petticoat ; on the second, a silk scarf. A 
parasol, gloves, and a pocket-handkerchief were also here 
found. The handkerchief bore the name " Marie Roget." 
Fragments of dress were discovered on the brambles 
around. The earth was trampled, the bushes were broken, 
and there was every evidence of a struggle. Between the 
thicket and the river, the fences were found taken down, 
and the ground bore evidence of some heavy burthen 
having been dragged along it. 

A weekly paper, Le Soleil* had the following com- 
ments upon this discovery — comments which merely 
echoed the sentiment of the whole Parisian press : 

" The things had all evidently been there at least three 
or four weeks ; they were all mildewed down hard with 
the action of the rain, and stuck together from mildew. The 
grass had grown around and over some of them. The silk on 
the parasol was strong, but the threads of it were run together 
within. The upper part, where it had been doubled and 
folded, was all mildewed and rotten, and tore on its being 
opened. * * * The pieces of her frock torn out by the 
bushes were about three inches wide and six inches long. One 
part was the hem of the frock, and it had been mended ; the 
other piece was part of the skirt, not the hem. They looked 
like strips torn off, and were on the thorn bush, about a foot 
from the ground. * * * There can be no doubt, there- 
fore, that the spot of this appalling outrage has been dis- 
covered." 

* Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, edited by C. I. Peterson, Esq. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROCET. 333 

Consequent upon this discovery, new evidence appeared. 
Madame Deluc testified that she keeps a roadside inn not 
far from the bank of the river, opposite the Barriere du 
Roule. The neighborhood is secluded — particularly so. 
It is the usual Sunday resort of blackguards from the city, 
who cross the river in boats. About three o'clock, in the 
afternoon of the Sunday in question, a young girl arrived 
at the inn, accompanied by a young man of dark com- 
plexion. The two remained here for some time. On 
their departure, they took the road to some thick woods 
in the vicinity. Madame Duluc's attention was called to 
the dress worn by the girl, on account of its resemblance 
to one worn by a deceased relative. A scarf was particu- 
larly noticed. Soon after the departure of the couple, a 
gang of miscreants made their appearance, behaved 
boisterously, ate and drank without making payment, fol- 
lowed in the route of the young man and girl, returned to 
the inn about dusk, and re-crossed the river as if in great 
haste. 

It was soon after dark, upon this same evening, that 
Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, heard tlie 
screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn. The 
screams were violent but brief. Madame D. recognized 
not only the scarf which was found in the thicket, but the 
dress which was discovered upon the corpse. An omni- 
bus driver, Valence,* now also testified that he saw Marie 
Roget cross a ferry on the Seine, on the Sunday in ques- 

* Adam. 



334 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

tion, in company with a young man of dark complexion. 
He, Valence, knew Marie,, and could not be mistaken 
in her identity. The articles found in the thicket were 
fully identified by the relatives of Marie. 

The items of evidence and information thus collected 
by myself, from the newspapers, at the suggestion of 
Dupin, embraced only one more point — but this was 
a point of seemingly vast consequence. It appears that, 
immediately after the discovery of the clothes as above 
described, the lifeless or nearly lifeless body of St. 
Eustache, Marie's betrothed, was found in the vicinity of 
what all now supposed the scene of the outrage. A phial 
labelled " laudanum," and emptied, was found near him. 
His breath gave evidence of the poison. He died with- 
out speaking. Upon his person was found a letter, briefly 
stating his love for Marie, with his design of self-de- 
struction. 

" I need scarcely tell you," said Dupin, as he finished 
the perusal of my notes, " that this is a far more intricate 
case than that of the Rue Morgue ; from which it differs 
in one important respect. This is an ordinary, although 
an atrocious, instance of crime. There is nothing pecul- 
iarly outre about it. You will observe that, for this 
reason, the mystery has been considered easy, when, for 
this reason, it should have been considered difficult, of': 
solution. Thus, at first, it was thought unnecessary to : 

offer a reward. The myrmidons of G were able at ( 

once to comprehend how and why such an atrocity. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 335 

might have been committed. They could picture to their 

imaginations a mode — many modes, — and a motive 

many motives ; and because it was not impossible that 
either of these numerous modes and motives could have 
been the actual one, they have taken it for granted that 
one of them must. But the ease with which these variable 
fancies were entertained, and the very plausibility which 
each assumed, should have been understood as indicative 
rather of the difficulties than of the facilities which must 
attend elucidation. I have therefore observed that it is 
by prominences above the plane of the ordinary, that 
reason feels her way, if at all, in her search for the true, 
and that the proper question in cases such as this, is 
not so much ' what has occurred? ' as ' what has occurred 
that has never occurred before ? ' In the investigations 
at the house of Madame L' Espanaye,* the agents of 

G were discouraged and confounded by that very 

unusualness which, to a properly regulated intellect, would 
have afforded the surest (3men of success ; while this 
same intellect might have been plunged in despair at the 
ordinary character of all that met the eye in the case 
of the perfumery-girl, and yet told of nothing but 
easy triumph to the functionaries of the Prefecture. 

" In the case of Madame L' Espanaye and her daughter, 
there was, even at the beginning of our investigation, no 
doubt that murder had been committed. The idea of 
suicide was excluded at once. Here, too, we are freed, at 

* See " Murders in the Rue Morgue." 



33 6 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

the commencement, from all supposition of self-murder. 
The body found at the Barriere du Roule was found 
under such circumstances as to leave us no room for em- 
barrassment upon this important point. But it has been 
suggested that the corpse discovered is not that of the 
Marie Roget for the conviction of whose assassin, or assas- 
sins, the reward is offered, and respecting whom, solely, 
our agreement has been arranged with the Prefect. We 
both know this gentleman well. It will not do to trust 
him too far. If, dating our inquiries from the body 
found, and then tracing a murderer, we yet discover this 
body to be that of some other individual than Marie ; or 
if, starting from the living Marie, we find her, yet find her 
unassassinated — in either case we lose our labor ; since it 

is Monsieur G with whom we have to deal. For our 

own purpose, therefore, if not for the purpose of justice, it 
is indispensable that our first step should be the determi- 
nation of the identity of the corpse with the Marie Roget 
who is missing. 

" With the public the arguments of L Etoile have had 
weight ; and that the journal itself is convinced of their 
importance would appear from the manner in which it 
commences one of its essays upon the subject — ' Several 
of the morning papers of the day/ it says, ' speak of the 
conclusive article in Monday's Etoile.' To me, this article 
appears conclusive of little beyond the zeal of its inditer. 
We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object 
of our newspapers rather to create a sensation — to make a 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 337 

point — than to further the cause of truth. The latter end 
is only pursued when it seems coincident with the former. 
The print which merely falls in with ordinary opinion 
(however well founded this opinion may be) earns for 
itself no credit with the mob. The mass of the people 
regard as profound only him who suggests pungent contra- 
dictions of the general idea. In ratiocination, not less 
than in literature, it is the epigram which is the most im- 
mediately and the most universally appreciated. In both, 
it is of the lowest order of merit. 

" What I mean to say is, that it is the mingled epigram 
and melodrame of the idea, that Marie Roget still lives, 
rather than any true plausibility in this idea, which have 
suggested it to L Etoi/e, and secured it a favorable recep- 
tion with the public. Let us examine the heads of this 
journal's argument; endeavoring to avoid the incoherence 
with which it is originally set forth. 

" The first aim of the writer is to show, from the brevity 
of the interval between Marie's disappearance and the 
finding of the floating corpse, that this corpse cannot be 
that of Marie. The reduction of this interval to its smallest 
possible dimension, becomes thus, at once, an object with 
the reasoner. In the rash pursuit of this object, he rushes 
into mere assumption at the outset. ' It is folly to sup- 
pose,' he says, ' that the murder, if murder was committed 
on her body, could have been consummated soon enough 
to have enabled her murderers to throw the body into the 
river before midnight.' We demand at once, and very 



33^ THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

naturally, why? Why is it folly to suppose that the 
murder was committed within five mi?iutes after the girl's 
quitting her mother's house ? Why is it folly to suppose 
that the murder was committed at any given period of 
the day? There have been assassinations at all hours. 
But, had the murder taken place at any moment between 
nine o'clock in the morning of Sunday and a quarter 
before midnight, there would still have been time enough 
* to throw the body into the river before midnight.' This 
assumption, then, amounts precisely to this — that the 
murder was not committed on Sunday at all — and, if we 
allow L Etoile to assume this, we may permit it any lib- 
erties whatever. The paragraph beginning ' It is folly to 
suppose that the murder, etc.,' however it appears as 
printed in U Etoile, may be imagined to have existed 
actually thus in the brain of its inditer : ' It is folly to 
suppose that the murder, if murder was committed on the 
body, could have been committed soon enough to have 
enabled her murderers t*o throw the body into the river 
before midnight ; it is folly, we say, to suppose all this, 
and to suppose at the same time, (as we are resolved to 
suppose), that the body was not thrown in until after mid- 
night ' — a sentence sufficiently inconsequential in itself, 
but not so utterly preposterous as the one printed. 

" Were it my purpose," continued Dupin, " merely to 
make out a case against this passage of L Etoile 's argu- 
ment, I might safely leave it where it is. It is not, how- 
ever, with L Etoile that we have to do, but with the 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 339 

truth. The sentence in question has but one meaning, as 
it stands ; and this meaning I have fairly stated ; but it is 
material that we go behind the mere words, for an idea 
which these words have obviously intended, and failed to 
convey. It was the design of the journalists to say that 
at whatever period of the day or night of Sunday this 
murder was committed, it was improbable that the assas- 
sins would have ventured to bear the corpse to the river 
before midnight. And herein lies, really, the assumption 
of which I complain. It is assumed that the murder was 
committed at such a position, and under such circum- 
stances, that the bearing it to the river became necessary. 
Now, the assassination might have taken place upon the 
river's brink, or on the river itself ; and, thus, the throwing 
the corpse in the water might have been resorted to at 
any period of the day or night, as the most obvious and 
most immediate mode of disposal. You will understand 
that I suggest nothing here as probable, or as coincident 
with my own opinion. My design, so far, has no reference 
to the facts of the case. I wish merely to caution you 
against the whole tone of L Etoile's suggestion, by calling 
your attention to its ex-parte character at the outset. 

" Having prescribed thus a limit to suit its own precon- 
ceived notions; having assumed that, if this were the' 
body of Marie, it could have been in the water but a very 
brief time, the journal goes on to say : 

" ' All experience has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies 
thrown into the water immediately after death by violence, re- 



34° THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

quire from six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take 
place to bring them to the top of the water. Even when a 
cannon is fired over a corpse, and it rises before at least fi ve- 
er six days' immersion, it sinks again if let alone.' 

" These assertions have been tacitly received by every 
paper in Paris, with the exception of Le Moniteur* This 
latter print endeavors to combat that portion of the para- 
graph which has reference to * drowned bodies ' only, by 
citing some five or six instances in which the bodies of 
individuals known to be drowned were found floating 
after the lapse of less time than is insisted upon by 
L Etoile. But there is something excessively unphilo- 
sophical in the attempt, on the part of Le Moniteur, to 
rebut the general assertion of L Etoile, by a citation of 
particular instances militating against that assertion. Had 
it been possible to adduce fifty instead of five examples 
of bodies found floating at the end of two or three days, 
these fifty examples could still have been properly re- 
garded only as exceptions to L Etoile 's rule, until such 
time as the rule itself should be confuted. Admitting the 
rule, (and this Le Moniteur does not deny, insisting mere- 
ly upon its exceptions,) the argument of L Etoile is 
suffered to remain in full force ; for this argument does 
not pretend to involve more than a question of the prob- 
ability of the body having risen to the surface in less than 
three days ; and this probability will be in favor of 

* The New York Commercial Advertiser, edited by Col. Stone. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 341 

L Etoile's position until the instances so childishly ad- 
duced shall be sufficient in number to establish an antag- 
onistical rule. 

" You will see at once that all argument upon this head 
should be urged, if at all, against the rule itself ; and for 
this end we must examine the rationale of the rule. Now 
the human body, in general, is neither much lighter nor 
much heavier than the water of the Seine ; that is to say, 
the specific gravity of the human body, in its natural con- 
dition, is about equal to the bulk of fresh water which it 
displaces. The bodies of fat and fleshy persons, with 
small bones, and of women generally, are lighter than 
those of the lean and large-boned, and of men ; and the 
specific gravity of the water of a river is somewhat in- 
fluenced by the presence of the tide from the sea. But, 
leaving this tide out of question, it may be said that very 
few human bodies will sink at all, even in fresh water, of 
their own accord. Almost any one, falling into a river, 
will be enabled to float, if he suffer the specific gravity of 
the water fairly to be adduced in comparison with his own 
— that is to say, if he suffer his whole person to be im- 
mersed, with as little exception as possible. The proper 
position for one who cannot swim, is the upright position 
of the walker on land, with the head thrown fully back, 
and immersed ; the mouth and nostrils alone remaining 
above the surface. Thus circumstanced, we shall find 
that we float without difficulty and without exertion. It 
is evident, however, that the gravities of the body, and of 



34 2 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

the bulk of water displaced, are very nicely balanced, and 
that a trifle will cause either to preponderate. An arm, 
for instance, uplifted from the water, and thus deprived 
of its support, is an additional weight sufficient to im- 
merse the whole head, while the accidental aid of the 
smallest piece of timber will enable us to elevate the head 
so as to look about. Now, in the struggles of one unused 
to swimming, the arms are invariably thrown upward, 
while an attempt is made to keep the head in its usual 
perpendicular position. The result is the immersion of 
the mouth and nostrils, and the inception, during efforts 
to breathe while beneath the surface, of water into the 
lungs. Much is also received into the stomach, and the 
whole body becomes heavier by the difference between 
the weight of the air originally distending these cavities, 
and that of the fluid which now fills them. This differ- 
ence is sufficient to cause the body to sink, as a general 
rule ; but is insufficient in the cases of individuals with 
small bones and an abnormal quantity of flaccid or fatty 
matter. Such individuals float even after drowning. 

"The corpse, being supposed at the bottom of the river, 
will there remain until, by some means, its specific gravity 
again becomes less than that of the bulk of water which 
it displaces. This effect is brought about by decompo- 
sition, or otherwise. The result of decomposition is the 
generation of gas, distending the cellular tissues and all 
the cavities, and giving the puffed appearance which is so 
horrible. When this distension has so far progressed that 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET, 343 

the bulk of the corpse is materially increased without a 
corresponding increase of mass or weight, its specific 
gravity becomes less than that of the water dis- 
placed, and it forthwith makes its appearance at the sur- 
face. But decomposition is modified by innumerable cir- 
cumstances — is hastened or retarded by innumerable 
agencies ; for example, by the heat or cold of the season, 
by the mineral impregnation or purity of the water, by its 
depth or shallowness, by its currency or stagnation, by 
the temperament of the body, by its infection or freedom 
from disease before death. Thus it is evident that we 
can assign no period, with any thing like accuracy, at 
which the corpse shall rise through decomposition. Under 
certain conditions this result would be brought about 
within an hour ; under others it might not take place at 
all. There are chemical infusions by which the animal 
frame can be preserved forever from corruption ; the bi- 
chloride of mercury is one. But, apart from decomposi- 
tion, there may be, and very usually is, a generation of 
gas within the stomach, from the acetous fermentation of 
vegetable matter (or within other cavities from other 
causes), sufficient to induce a distension which will bring 
the body to the surface. The effect produced by the fi- 
ring of a cannon is that of simple vibration. This may 
either loosen the corpse from the soft mud or ooze in 
which it is imbedded, thus permitting it to rise when 
other agencies have already prepared it for so doing ; or 
it may overcome the tenacity of some putrescent por- 



344 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

tions of the cellular tissue, allowing the cavities to dis- 
tend under the influence of the gas. 

" Having thus before us the whole philosophy of this 
subject, we can easily test by it the assertions of L Etoile. 
'All experience shows,' says this paper, 'that drowned 
bodies, or bodies thrown into the water immediately after 
death by violence, require from six to ten days for suffi- 
cient decomposition to take place to bring them to the 
top of the water. Even when a cannon is fired over a 
corpse, and it rises before at least five or six days' immer- 
sion, it sinks again if let alone.' 

" The whole of this paragraph must now appear a tissue 
of inconsequence and incoherence. All experience does 
not show that ' drowned bodies ' require from six to ten 
days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring 
them to the surface. Both science and experience show 
that the period of their rising is, and necessarily must be, 
indeterminate. If, moreover, a body has risen to the sur- 
face through firing of cannon, it will not ' sink again if let 
alone,' until decomposition has so far progressed as to 
permit the escape of the generated gas. But I wish to 
call your attention to the distinction which is made be- 
tween * drowned bodies,' and ' bodies thrown into the 
water immediately after death by violence.' Although 
the writer admits the distinction, he yet includes them all 
in the same category. I have shown how it is that the 
body of a drowning man becomes specifically heavier than 
its bulk of water, and that he would not sink at all, ex- 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 345 

cept for the struggle by which he elevates his arms above 
the surface, and his gasps for breath while beneath the 
surface — gasps which supply by water the place of the 
original air in the lungs. But these struggles and these 
gasps would not occur in the body ' thrown into the water 
immediately after death by violence.' Thus, in the latter 
instance, the body, as a general rule, would not sink at all — 
a fact of which V Etoile is evidently ignorant. When 
decomposition had proceeded to a very great extent — 
when the flesh had in a great measure left the bones — 
then, indeed, but not till then, should we lose sight of the 
corpse. 

" And now what are we to make of the argument, that 
the body found could not be that of Marie Roget, be- 
cause, three days only having elapsed, this body was 
found floating? If drowned, being a woman, she might 
never have sunk ; or, having sunk, might have re-appeared 
in twenty-four hours or less. But no one supposes her 
to have been drowned ; and, dying before being thrown 
into the river, she might have been found floating at any 
period afterward whatever. 

" ' But,' says V Etoile, ' if the body had been kept in 
its mangled state on shore until Tuesday night, some 
trace would be found on shore of the murderers.' Here it 
is at first difficult to perceive the intention of the reasoner. 
He means to anticipate what he imagines would be an 
objection to his theory — viz. : that the body was kept on 
shore two days, suffering rapid decomposition — more rapid 



34-6 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

than if immersed in water. He supposes that, had this 
been the case, it might have appeared at the surface on 
the Wednesday, and thinks that only under such circum- 
stances it could have so appeared. He is accordingly in 
haste to show that it was not kept on shore ; for, if so, 
* some trace would be found on shore of the murderers.' 
I presume you smile at the sequitur. You cannot be 
made to see how the mere duration of the corpse on the 
shore could operate to multiply traces of the assassins. 
Nor can I. 

" ' And furthermore it is exceedingly improbable/ con- 
tinues our journal, ' that any villains who had committed 
such a murder as is here supposed, would have thrown the 
body in without weight to sink it, when such a precaution 
could have so easily been taken.' Observe, here, the 
laughable confusion of thought ! No one — not even 
L Etoile — disputes the murder committed on the body 
found. The marks of violence are too obvious. It is our 
reasoner's object merely to show that this body is not 
Marie's. He wishes to prove that Marie is not assassi- 
nated — not that the corpse was not. Yet his observation 
proves only the latter point. Here is a corpse without 
weight attached. Murderers, casting it in, would not have 
failed to attach a weight. Therefore it was- not thrown 
in by murderers. This is all which is proved, if any thing 
is. The question of identity is not even approached, and 
L Etoile has been at great pains merely to gainsay now 
what it has admitted only a moment before. ' We are 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 2>47 

perfectly convinced/ it says, ' that the body found was 
that of a murdered female.' 

" Nor is this the sole instance, even in this division of his 
subject, where our reasoner unwittingly reasons against 
himself. His evident object, I have already said, is to re- 
duce, as much as possible, the interval between Marie's 
disappearance and the rinding of the corpse. Yet we 
find him urging the point that no person saw the girl from 
the moment of her leaving her mother's house. ' ' We 
have no evidence,' he says, ' that Marie Roget was 
in the land of the living after nine o'clock on Sunday, 
June the twenty-second.' As his argument is obviously an 
ex-parte one, he should, at least, have left this matter out 
of sight ; for had any one been known to see Marie, say 
on Monday, or on Tuesday, the interval in question would 
have been much reduced, and, by his own ratiocination, 
the probability much diminished of the corpse being that 
of the grisette. It is, nevertheless, amusing to observe 
that L Etoile insists upon its point in the full belief of 
its furthering its general argument. 

" Re-peruse now that portion of this argument which 
has reference to the identification of the corpse by Beau- 
vais. In regard to the hair upon the arm, L Etoile has 
been obviously disingenuous. M. Beauvais, not being an 
idiot, could never have urged in identification of the 
corpse, simply hair upon its arm. No arm is without hair. 
The gefierality of the expression of L Etoile is a mere 
perversion of the witness' phraseology. He must have 



34^ THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

spoken of some peculiarity in this hair. It must have 
been a peculiarity of color, of quantity, of length, or of 
situation. 

" ' Her foot,' says the journal, 'was small — so are thou- 
sands of feet. Her garter is no proof whatever — nor is 
her shoe — for shoes and garters are sold in packages. The 
same may be said of the flowers in her hat. One thing 
upon which M. Beauvais strongly insists is, that the clasp 
on the garter found had been set back to take it in. This 
amounts to nothing ; for most women find it proper to 
take a pair of garters home and fit them to the size of the 
limbs they are to encircle, rather than to try them in the 
store where they purchase.' Here it is difficult to suppose 
the reasoner in earnest. Had M. Beauvais, in his search 
for the body of Marie, discovered a corpse corresponding 
in general size and appearance to the missing girl, he 
would have been warranted (without reference to the 
question of habiliment at all) in forming an opinion that 
his search had been successful. If, in addition to the 
point of general size and contour, he had found upon the 
arm a peculiar hairy appearance which he had observed 
upon the living Marie, his opinion might have been justly 
strengthened ; and the increase of positiveness might well 
have been in the ratio of the peculiarity, or unusualness, 
of the hairy mark. If, the feet of Marie being small, 
those of the corpse were also small, the increase of prob- 
ability that the body was that of Marie would not be an 
increase in a ratio merely arithmetical, but in one highly 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 349 

geometrical, or accumulative. Add to all this shoes such 
as she had been known to wear upon the day of her dis- 
appearance, and, although these shoes may be ' sold in 
packages,' you so far augment the probability as to verge 
upon the certain. What, of itself, would be no evidence 
of identity, becomes through its corroborative position, 
proof most sure. Give us, then, flowers in the hat corre- 
sponding to those worn by the missing girl, and we seek 
for nothing further. If only ojte flower, we seek for noth- 
ing further — what then if two or three, or more ? Each 
successive one is multiple evidence — proof not added to 
proof, but multiplied by hundreds or thousands. Let us 
now discover, upon the deceased, garters such as the 
living used, and it is almost folly to proceed. But these 
garters are found to be tightened, by the setting back of 
a clasp, in just such a manner as her own had been tight- 
ened by Marie shortly previous to her leaving home. It 
is now madness or hypocrisy to doubt. What L Etoile 
says in respect to this abbreviation of the garters being an 
unusual occurrence, shows nothing beyond its own perti- 
nacity in error. The elastic nature of the clasp-garter is 
self-demonstration of the unusualness of the abbreviation. 
What is made to adjust itself, must of necessity require 
I foreign adjustment but rarely. It must have been by an 
accident, in its strictest sense, that these garters of Marie 
needed the tightening described. They alone would have 
amply established her identity. But it is not that the 
corpse was found to have the garters of the missing girl, 



350 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

or found to have her shoes, or her bonnet, or the flowers 
of her bonnet, or her feet, or a peculiar mark upon the 
arm, or her general size and appearance — it is that the 
corpse had each, and all collectively. Could it be proved 
that the editor of L Etoile really entertained a doubt, 
under the circumstances, there would be no need, in his 
case, of a commission de lunatico inqitirendo. He has 
thought it sagacious to echo the small talk of the lawyers, 
who, for the most part, content themselves with echoing 
the rectangular precepts of the courts. I would here ob- 
serve that very much of what is rejected as evidence by a 
court, is the best of evidence to the intellect. For the 
court, guided itself by the general principles of evidence — 
the recognized and booked principles — is averse from swerv- 
ing at particular instances. And this steadfast adherence 
to principle, with rigorous disregard of the conflicting ex- 
ception, is a sure mode of attaining the maximum of 
attainable truth, in any long sequence of time. The 
practice, in mass, is therefore philosophical ; but it is not 
the less certain that it engenders vast individual error.* 

" In respect to the insinuations levelled at Beauvais, 
you will be willing to dismiss them in a breath. You 

* " A theory based on the qualities of an object, will prevent its being un- 
folded according to its objects ; and he who arranges topics in reference to 
their causes, will cease to value them according to their results. Thus the 
jurisprudence of every nation will show that, when law becomes a science 
and a system, it ceases to be justice. The errors into which a blind devotion 
to principles of classification has led the common law, will be seen by ob- 
serving how often the legislature has been obliged to come forward to restore 
the equity its scheme had lost." — Landor, 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 35 1 

have already fathomed the true character of this good 
gentleman. He is a busybody, with much of romance 
and little of wit. Any one so constituted will readily so 
conduct himself, upon occasion of real excitement, as to 
render himself liable to suspicion on the part of the over- 
acute, or the ill-disposed. M. Beauvais (as it appears 
from your notes) had some personal interviews with the 
editor of U Etoile, and offended him by venturing an 
opinion that the corpse, notwithstanding the theory of 
the editor, was, in sober fact, that of Marie. * He per- 
sists,' says the paper, ' in asserting the corpse to be that 
of Marie, but cannot give a circumstance, in addition to 
those which we have commented upon, to make others 
believe.' Now, without re-adverting to the fact that 
stronger evidence ' to make others believe,' could never 
have been adduced, it may be remarked that a man may 
very well be understood to believe, in a case of this kind, 
without the ability to advance a single reason for the be- 
lief of a second party. Nothing is more vague than im- 
pressions of individual identity. Each man recognizes 
his neighbor, yet there are few instances in which any 
one is prepared to give a reason for his recognition. The 
editor of L Etoile had no right to be offended at M. 
Beauvais' .unreasoning belief. 

" The suspicious circumstances which invest him, will 
be found to tally much better with my hypothesis of ro- 
mantic busy-body 'ism, than with the reasoner's suggestion 
of guilt. Once adopting the more charitable interpreta- 



35 2 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

tion, we shall find no difficulty in comprehending the rose 
in the key-hole ; the ' Marie ' upon the slate ; the ' elbow- 
ing the male relatives out of the way ' ; the ' aversion to 
permitting them to see the body ' ; the caution given to 

Madame B , that she must hold no conversation with 

the gendarme until his (Beauvais') return ; and, lastly, his 
apparent determination 'that nobody should have any 
thing to do with the proceedings except himself.' It seems 
to me unquestionable that Beauvais was a suitor of Marie's ; 
that she coquetted with him ; and that he was ambitious 
of being thought to enjoy her fullest intimacy. and con- 
fidence. I shall say nothing more upon this point ; and, 
as the evidence fully rebuts the assertion of L Etoile, 
touching the matter of apathy on the part of the mother 
and other relatives — an apathy inconsistent with the supx 
position of their believing the corpse to be that of the per- 
fumery girl — we shall now proceed as if the question of 
identity were settled to our perfect satisfaction." 

" And what," I here demanded, " do you think of the 
opinions of Le CoiJimerciel ? " 

" That, in spirit, they are far more worthy of attention 
than any which have been promulgated upon the subject. 
The deductions from the premises are philosophical and 
acute ; but the premises, in two instances, at least, are 
founded in imperfect observation. Le Commerciel wishes 
to intimate that Marie was seized by some gang of low 
ruffians not far from her mother's door. i It is impossible,' 
it urges, ' that a person so well known to thousands as 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 353 

this young woman was, should have passed three blocks 
without some one having seen her.' This is the idea of a 
man long resident in Paris — a public man — and one whose 
walks to and fro in the city have been mostly limited to 
the vicinity of the public offices. He is aware that he sel- 
dom passes so far as a dozen blocks from his own bureau, 
without being recognized and accosted. And, knowing 
the extent of his personal acquaintance with others, and 
of others with him, he compares his notoriety with that 
of the perfumery-girl, finds no great difference between 
them, and reaches at once the conclusion that she, in her 
walks, would be equally liable to recognition with himself 
in his. This could only be the case were her walks of 
the same unvarying, methodical character, and within the 
same species of limited region as are his own. He passes 
to and fro, at regular intervals, within a confined periph- 
ery, abounding in individuals who are led to observa- 
tion of his person through interest in the kindred nature 
of his occupation with their own. But the walks of Marie 
may, in general, be supposed discursive. In this particu- 
lar instance, it will be understood as most probable, that 
she proceeded upon a route of more than average diversity 
from her accustomed ones. The parallel which we im- 
agine to have existed in the mind of Le Commerciel 
would only be sustained in the event of the two indi- 
viduals traversing the whole city. In this case, granting 
the personal acquaintances to be equal, the chances would 
be also equal that an equal number of personal rencontres 



354 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

would be made. For my own part, I should hold it 
not only as possible, but as far more than probable, that 
Marie might have proceeded, at any given period, by any 
one of the many routes between her own residence and 
that of her aunt, without meeting a single individual 
whom she knew, or by whom she was known. In viewing 
this question in its full and proper light, we must hold 
steadily in mind the great disproportion between the per- 
sonal acquaintances of even the most noted individual in 
Paris, and the entire population of Paris itself. 

" But whatever force there may still appear to be in the 
suggestion of Le Commerciel, will be much diminished 
when we take into consideration the hour at which the 
girl went abroad. ' It was when the streets were full of 
people/ says Le Commerciel, ' that she went out.' But 
not so. It was at nine o'clock in the morning. Now at 
nine o'clock of every morning in the week, with the excep- 
tion of Sunday, the streets of the city are, it is true, 
thronged with people. At nine on Sunday, the populace 
are chiefly within doors preparing for church. No observ- 
ing person can have failed to notice the peculiarly de- 
serted air of the town, from about eight until ten on the 
morning of every Sabbath. Between ten and eleven the 
streets are thronged, but not at so early a period as that 
designated. 

" There is another point at which there seems a deficien- 
cy of observation on the part of Le Commerciel. ' A 
piece/ it says, ' of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats, 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 355 

two feet long, and one foot wide, was torn out and tied 
under her chin, and around the back of her head, probably 
to prevent screams. This was done by fellows who had 
no pocket-handkerchiefs.' Whether this idea is or is not 
well founded, we will endeavor to see hereafter ; but by 
1 fellows who have no pocket-handkerchiefs,' the editor in- 
tends the lowest class of ruffians. These, however, are the 
very description of people who will always be found to 
have handkerchiefs even when destitute of shirts. You 
must have had occasion to observe how absolutely indis- 
pensable, of late years, to the thorough blackguard, has 
become the pocket-handkerchief." 

" And what are we to think," I asked, " of the article in 
Le Soldi?" 

" That it is a vast pity its inditer was not born a parrot — 
in which case he would have been the most illustrious 
parrot of his race. He has merely repeated the individual 
items of the already published opinion ; collecting them, 
with a laudable industry, from this paper and from that. 
'The things had all evidently been there,' he says, 'at 
least three or four weeks, and there can be no doubt that 
the spot of this appalling outrage has been discovered.' 
The facts here re-stated by Le Soleil, are very far indeed 
from removing my own doubts upon this subject, and we 
will examine them more particularly hereafter in connec- 
tion with another division of the theme. 

" At present we must occupy ourselves with other in- 
vestigations. You cannot fail to have remarked the ex- 



35 6 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

tremc laxity of the examination of the corpse. To be 
sure, the question of identity was readily determined, or 
should have been ; but there were other points to be 
ascertained. Had the body been in any respect despoiled? 
Had the deceased any articles of jewelry about her person 
upon leaving home ? if so, had she any when found ? 
These are important questions utterly untouched by the 
evidence ; and there are others of equal moment, which 
have met with no attention. We must endeavor to satisfy 
ourselves by personal inquiry. The case of St. Eustache 
must be re-examined. I have no suspicion of this person ; 
but let us proceed methodically. We will ascertain be- 
yond a doubt the validity of the affidavits in regard to his 
whereabouts on the Sunday. Affidavits of this character 
are readily made matter of mystification. Should there be 
nothing wrong here, however, we will dismiss St. Eus- 
tache from our investigations. His suicide, however, cor- 
roborative of suspicion, were there found to be deceit in 
the affidavits, is, without such deceit, in no respect an 
unaccountable circumstance, or one which need cause us 
to deflect from the line of ordinary analysis. 

" In that which I now propose, we will discard the 
interior points of this tragedy, and concentrate our at- 
tention upon its outskirts. Not the least usual error in 
investigations such as this is the limiting of inquiry 
to the immediate, with total disregard of the collateral or 
circumstantial events. It is the malpractice of the courts 
to confine evidence and discussion to the bounds of 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 357 

apparent relevancy. Yet experience has shown, and a 
true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the 
larger, portion of truth arises from the seemingly irrele- 
vant. It is- through the spirit of this principle, if not pre- 
cisely through its letter, that modern science has resolved 
to calculate upon the unforeseen. But perhaps you do not 
comprehend me. The history of human knowledge has 
so uninterruptedly shown that to collateral, or incidental, 
or accidental events we are indebted for the most nume- 
rous and most valuable discoveries, that it has at length 
become necessary, in prospective view of improvement, 
to make not only large, but the largest, allowances for 
inventions that shall arise by chance, and quite out of the 
range of ordinary expectation. It is no longer philosophi- 
cal to base upon what has been a vision of what is to be. 
Accident is admitted as a portion of the substructure. 
We make chance a matter of absolute calculation. We 
subject the unlooked for and unimagined to the mathe- 
matical formula of the schools. 

" I repeat that it is no more than fact that the larger 
portion of all truth has sprung from the collateral ; and it 
is but in accordance with the spirit of the principle in- 
volved in this fact that I would divert inquiry, in the 
present case, from the trodden and hitherto unfruitful 
ground of the event itself to the cotemporary circum- 
stances which surround it. While you ascertain the 
validity of the affidavits, I will examine the newspapers 
more generally than you have as yet done. So far, we 



358 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

have only reconnoitred the field of investigation ; but it 
will be strange, indeed, if a comprehensive survey, such 
as I propose, of the public prints will not afford us some 
minute points which shall establish a direction for inquiry." 
In pursuance of Dupin's suggestion, I made scrupulous 
examination of the affair of the affidavits. The result 
was a firm conviction of their validity, and of the conse- 
quent innocence of St. Eustache. In the meantime my 
friend occupied himself, with what seemed to me a min- 
uteness altogether objectless, in a scrutiny of the various 
newspaper files. At the end of a week he placed before 
me the following extracts : 

"About three years and a half ago, a disturbance very simi- 
lar to the present was caused by the disappearance of this 
same Marie Roget from the parfumerie of Monsieur Le Blanc, 
in the Palais Royal. At the end of a week, however, she 
re-appeared at her customary comptoir, as well as ever, with 
the exception of a slight paleness not altogether usual. It was 
given out by Monsieur Le Blanc and her mother that she had 
merely been on a visit to some friend in the country ; and the 
affair was speedily hushed up. We presume that the present 
absence is a freak of the same nature, and that, at the expira- 
tion of a week or, perhaps, of a month, we shall have her 
among us again." — Evening Paper, Monday, June 23.* 

"An evening journal of yesterday refers to a former myste- 
rious disappearance of Mademoiselle Roget. It is well known 
that, during the week of her absence from Le Blanc's par- 

* New York Express. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 359 

fumerie, she was in the company of a young naval officer 
much noted for his debaucheries. A quarrel, it is supposed, 
providentially led to her return home. We have the name of 
the Lothario in question, who is at present stationed in Paris, 
but for obvious reasons forbear to make it public." — Le Mer- 
curie, Tuesday Morning, June 24. * 

"An outrage of the most atrocious character was perpe- 
trated near this city the day before yesterday. A gentleman, 
with his wife and daughter, engaged, about dusk, the services 
of six young men, who were idly rowing a boat to and fro 
near the banks of the Seine, to convey him across the river. 
Upon reaching the opposite shore the three passengers stepped 
out, and had proceeded so far as to be beyond the view of the 
boat, when the daughter discovered that she had left in it her 
parasol. She returned for it, was seized by the gang, carried 
out into the stream, gagged, brutally treated, and finally taken 
to the shore at a point not far from that at which she had 
originally entered the boat with her parents. The villains have 
escaped for the time, but the police are upon their trail, and 
some of them will soon be taken." — Morning Paper, June 25. f 

" We have received one or two communications, the object 
of which is to fasten the crime of the late atrocity upon Men- 
nais I ; but as this gentleman has been fully exonerated by a 
legal inquiry, and as the arguments of our several correspond- 
ents appear to be more zealous than profound, we do not think 
it advisable to make them public." — Morning Paper, June 28. § 



* New York Herald. 
\ New York Courier and Inquirer. 

\ Mennais was one of the parties originally suspected and arrested, but 
discharged through total lack of evidence. 
§ New York Courier and Inquirer. 



360 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

"We have received several forcibly written communications, 
apparently from various sources, and which go far to render it 
a matter of certainty that the unfortunate Marie Roget has 
become a victim of one of the numerous bands of blackguards 
which infest the vicinity of the city upon Sunday. Our own 
opinion is decidedly in favor of this supposition. We shall 
endeavor to make room for some of these arguments here- 
after." — Evening Paper — Tuesday, June 31.* 

" On Monday, one of the bargemen connected with the 
revenue service saw an empty boat floating down the Seine. 
Sails were lying in the bottom of the boat. The bargeman 
towed it under the barge office. The next morning it was 
taken from thence without the knowledge of any of the offi- 
cers. The rudder is now at the barge office." — Le Diligence, 
Thursday, June 26. f 

Upon reading these various extracts, they not only 
seemed to me irrelevant, but I could perceive no mode 
in which any one of them could be brought to bear 
upon the matter in hand. I waited for some explanation 
from Dupin. 

" It is not my present design," he said, " to dwell upon 
the first and second of these extracts. I have copied them 
chiefly to show you the extreme remissness of the police, 
who, as far as I can understand from the Prefect, have not 
troubled themselves, in any respect, with an examination 
of the naval officer alluded to. Yet it is mere folly to 

* New York Evening Post. 
\ New York Standard. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 36 1 

say that between the first and second disappearance of 
Marie there is no sapposable connection. Let us admit 
the first elopement to have resulted in a quarrel between 
the lovers, and the return home of the betrayed. We are 
now prepared to view a second elopement (if we knozv that 
an elopement has again taken place) as indicating a re- 
newal of the betrayer's advances, rather than as the result 
of new proposals by a second individual — we are prepared 
to regard it as a ' making up ' of the old amour, rather 
than as the commencement of a new one. The chances 
are ten to one, that he who had once eloped with Marie 
would again propose an elopement, rather than that she 
to whom proposals of elopement had been made by one 
individual, should have them made to her by another. 
And here let me call your attention to the fact, that the 
time elapsing between the first ascertained and the sec- 
ond supposed elopement is a few months more than the 
general period of the cruises of our men-of-war. Had the 
lover been interrupted in his first villany by the necessity 
of departure to sea, and had he seized the first moment of 
his return to renew the base designs not yet altogether 
accomplished — or not yet altogether accomplished by 
him ? Of all these things we know nothing. 

" You will say, however, that, in the second instance, 
there was no elopement as imagined. Certainly not — 
but are we prepared to say that there was not the 
frustrated design? Beyond St. Eustache, and perhaps 
Beauvais, we find no recognized, no open, no honorable 



362 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

suitors of Marie. Of none other is there any thing said. 
Who, then, is the secret lover, of whom the relatives (at 
least most of them) know nothing, but whom Marie meets 
upon the morning of Sunday, and who is so deeply in her 
confidence, that she hesitates not to remain with him 
until the shades of the evening descend, amid the solitary 
groves of the Barriere du Roule? Who is that secret 
lover, I ask, of whom, at least, most of the relatives know 
nothing ? And what means the singular prophecy of 
Madame Roget on the morning of Marie's departure ? — 
* I fear that I shall never see Marie again.' 

" But if we cannot imagine Madame Roget privy to the 
design of elopement, may we not at least suppose this 
design entertained by the girl ? Upon quitting home, she 
gave it to be understood that she was about to visit her 
aunt in the Rue des Dromes, and St. Eustache was re- 
quested to call for her at dark. Now, at first glance, this 
fact strongly militates against my suggestion ; — but let us 
reflect. That she did meet some companion, and proceed 
with him across the river, reaching the Barriere du Roule 
at so late an hour as three o'clock in the afternoon, is 
known. But in consenting so to accompany this indi- 
vidual, (for whatever purpose — to her mother known or un- 
known 1) she must have thought of her expressed inten- 
tion when leaving home, and of the surprise and suspicion 
aroused in the bosom of her affianced suitor, St. Eustache, 
when, calling for her, at the hour appointed, in the Rue 
des Dromes, he should find that she had not been there, 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 363 

and when, moreover, upon returning to the pension with 
this alarming intelligence, he should become aware of her 
continued absence from home. She must have thought 
of these things, I say. She must have foreseen the 
chagrin of St. Eustache, the suspicion of all. She could 
not have thought of returning to brave this suspicion ; but 
the suspicion becomes a point of trivial importance to her, 
if we suppose her not intending to return. 

" We may imagine her thinking thus — ' I am to meet a 
certain person for the purpose of elopement, or for certain 
other purposes known only to myself. It is necessary 
that there be no chance of interruption — there must be 
sufficient time given us to elude pursuit — I will give it to 
be understood that I shall visit and spend the day with 
my aunt at the Rue des Dromes — I will tell St. Eustache 
not to call for me until dark — in this way, my absence 
from home for the longest possible period, without caus- 
ing suspicion or anxiety, will be accounted for, and I shall 
gain more time than in any other manner. If I bid St. 
Eustache call for me at dark, he will be sure not to call 
before ; but if I wholly neglect to bid him call, my time 
for escape will be diminished, since it will be expected 
that I return the earlier, and my absence will the sooner 
excite anxiety. Now, if it were my design to return at 
all — if I had in contemplation merely a stroll with the 
individual in question — it would not be my policy to bid 
St. Eustache call ; for, calling, he will be sure to ascertain 
that I have played him false — a fact of which I might 



364 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

keep him forever in ignorance, by leaving home without 
notifying him of my intention, by returning before dark, 
and by then stating that I had been to visit my aunt in 
the Rue des Dromes. But, as it is my design never to 
return — or not for some weeks — or not until certain con- 
cealments are effected — the gaining of time is the only 
point about which I need give myself any concern.' 

" You have observed, in your notes, that the most gen- 
eral opinion in relation to this sad affair is, and was from 
the first, that the girl had been the victim of a gang of 
blackguards. Now, the popular opinion, under certain 
conditions, is not to be disregarded. When arising of 
itself — when manifesting itself in a strictly spontaneous 
manner — we should look upon it as analogous with that 
intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man 
of genius. In ninety-nine cases from the hundred I would 
abide by its decision. But it is important that we find no 
palpable traces of suggestion. The opinion must be rigor- 
ously the public s own ; and the distinction is often exceed- 
ingly difficult to perceive and to maintain. In the present 
instance, it appears to me that this* public opinion,' in 
respect to a gang, has been superinduced by the collateral 
event which is detailed in the third of my extracts. All 
Paris is excited by the discovered corpse of Marie, a girl 
young, beautiful, and notorious. This corpse is found, 
bearing marks of violence, and floating in the river. But 
it is now made known that, at the very period, or about 
the very period, in which it is supposed that the girl was 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 365 

assassinated, an outrage similar in nature to that endured 
by the deceased, although less in extent, was perpetrated, 
by a gang of young ruffians, upon the person of a second 
young female. Is it wonderful that the one known atro- 
city should influence the popular judgment in regard to 
the other unknown ? This judgment awaited direction, 
and the known outrage seemed so opportunely to afford 
it ! Marie, too, was found in the river ; and upon this 
very river was this known outrage committed. The con- 
nection of the two events had about it so much of the 
palpable, that the true wonder would have been a failure 
of the populace to appreciate and to seize it. But, in 
fact, the one atrocity, known to be so committed, is, if 
any thing, evidence that the other, committed at a time 
nearly coincident, was not so committed. It would have 
been a miracle indeed, if, while a gang of ruffians were 
perpetrating, at a given locality, a most unheard-of wrong, 
there should have been another similar gang, in a similar 
locality, in the same city, under the same circumstances, 
with the same means and appliances, engaged in a wrong 
of precisely the same aspect, at precisely the same period 
of time ! Yet in what, if not in this marvellous train of 
coincidence, does the accidentally suggested opinion of the 
populace call upon us to believe ? 

" Before proceeding further, let us consider the supposed 
scene of the assassination, in the thicket at the Barriere 
du Roule. This thicket, although dense, was in the close 
vicinity of a public road. Within were three or four large 



366 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

stones, forming a kind of seat with a back and a footstool. 
On the upper stone was discovered a white petticoat ; on 
the second, a silk scarf. A parasol, gloves, and a pocket- 
handkerchief were also here found. The handkerchief 
bore the name ' Marie Roget.' Fragments of dress were 
seen on the branches around. The earth was trampled, 
the bushes were broken, and there was every evidence of 
a violent struggle. 

" Notwithstanding the acclamation with which the dis- 
covery of this thicket was received by the press, and the 
unanimity with which it was supposed to indicate the 
precise scene of the outrage, it must be admitted that 
there was some very good reason for doubt. That it was 
the scene, I may or I may not believe — but there was 
excellent reason for doubt. Had the true scene been, 
as Le Commerciel suggested, in the neighborhood of the 
Rue Pavee St. Andree, the perpetrators of the crime, sup- 
posing them still resident in Paris, would naturally have 
been stricken with terror at the public attention thus 
acutely directed into the proper channel ; and, in certain 
classes of minds, there would have arisen, at once, a sense 
of the necessity of some exertion to redivert this atten- 
tion. And thus, the thicket of the Barriere du Roule 
having been already suspected, the idea of placing the 
articles where they were found, might have been naturally 
entertained. There is no real evidence, although Le Soleil 
so supposes, that the articles discovered had been more 
than a very few days in the thicket ; while there is much 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 367 

circumstantial proof that they could not have remained 
there, without attracting attention, during the twenty- 
days elapsing between the fatal Sunday and the afternoon 
upon which they were found by the boys. ' They were 
all mildewed down hard,' says Le Soleil, adopting the 
opinions of its predecessors, 'with the action of the rain 
and stuck together from mildew. The grass had grown 
around and over some of them. The silk of the parasol 
was strong, but the threads of it were run together within. 
The upper part, where it had been doubled and folded, 
was all mildewed and rotten, and tore on being opened.' 
In respect to the grass having ' grown around and over 
some of them/ it is obvious that the fact could only have 
been ascertained from the words, and thus from the recol- 
lections, of two small boys ; for these boys removed the 
articles and took them home before they had been seen 
by a third party. But the grass will grow, especially in 
warm and damp weather (such as was that of the period 
of the murder), as much as two or three inches in a single 
day. A parasol lying upon a newly turfed ground, might, 
in a single week, be entirely concealed from sight by the 
upspringing grass. And touching that mildew upon which 
the editor of Le Soleil so petinaciously insists, that he 
employs the word no less than three times in the brief 
paragraph just quoted, is he really unaware of the nature 
of this mildew ? Is he to be told that it is one of the 
many classes of fungus, of which the most ordinary 
feature is its upspringing and decadence within twenty- 
four hours? 



368 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

"Thus we see, at a glance, that what has been most 
triumphantly adduced in support of the idea that the 
articles had been ' for at least three or four weeks' in the 
thicket, is most absurdly null as regards any evidence of 
that fact. On the other hand, it is exceedingly difficult 
to believe that these articles could have remained in 
the thicket specified for a longer period than a single 
week — for a longer period than from one Sunday to 
the next. Those who know any thing of the vicinity 
of Paris, know the extreme difficulty of finding seclusion, 
unless at a great distance from its suburbs. Such a thing 
as an unexplored or even an unfrequently visited recess, 
amid its woods or groves, is not for a moment to be 
imagined. Let any one who, being at heart a lover 
of nature, is yet chained by duty to the dust and heat of 
this great metropolis — let any such one attempt, even dur- 
ing the week-days, to slake his thirst for solitude amid the 
scenes of natural loveliness which immediately surround 
us. At every second step, he will find the growing charm 
dispelled by the voice and personal intrusion of some 
ruffian or party of carousing blackguards. He will seek 
privacy amid the densest foliage, all in vain. Here are 
the very nooks where the unwashed most abound — here 
are the temples most desecrate. With sickness of the 
heart the wanderer will flee back to the polluted Paris as 
to a less odious because less incongruous sink of pollution. 
But if the vicinity of the city is so beset during the work- 
ing days of the week, how much more so on the Sabbath ! 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET 369 

It is now especially that, released from the claims of labor, 
or deprived of the customary opportunities of crime, the 
town blackguard seeks the precincts of the town, not 
through love of the rural, which in his heart he despises, 
but by way of escape from the restraints and convention- 
alities of society. He desires less the fresh air and the 
green trees, than the utter license of the country. Here, 
at the road-side inn, or beneath the foliage of the woods, he 
indulges unchecked by any eye except those of his boon 
companions, in all the mad excess of a counterfeit hilarity 
— the joint offspring of liberty and of rum. I say nothing 
more than what must be obvious to every dispassionate 
observer, when I repeat that the circumstance of the 
articles in question having remained undiscovered, for 
a longer period than from one Sunday to another, in 
any thicket in the immediate neighborhood of Paris, is to 
be looked upon as little less than miraculous. 

" But there are not wanting other grounds for the sus- 
picion that the articles were placed in the thicket with the 
view of diverting attention from the real scene of the out- 
rage. And, first, let me direct your notice to the date of 
the discovery of the articles. Collate this with the date 
of the fifth extract made by myself from the newspapers. 
You will find that the discovery followed, almost imme- 
diately, the urgent communications sent to the evening 
paper. These communications, although various, and 
apparently from various sources, tended all to the same 
point — viz., the directing of attention to a gang as the 



370 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

perpetrators of the outrage, and to the neighborhood of 
the Barriere du Roule as its scene. Now, here, of course, 
the situation is not that, in consequence of these com- 
munications, or of the public attention by them directed, 
the articles were found by the boys ; but the suspicion 
might and may well have been, that the articles were not 
before found by the boys, for the reason that the articles 
had not before been in the thicket ; having been deposited 
there only at so late a period as at the date, or shortly 
prior to the date of the communications, by the guilty 
authors of these communications themselves. 

" This thicket was a singular — an exceedingly singular 
one. It was unusually dense. Within its naturally walled 
enclosure were three extraordinary stones, forming a seat 
with a back and a footstool. And this thicket, so full of 
art, was in the immediate vicinity, within a few rods, of 
the dwelling of Madame Deluc, whose boys were in the 
habit of closely examining the shrubberies about them in 
search of the bark of the sassafras. Would it be a rash 
wager — a wager of one thousand to one — that a day never 
passed over the heads of these boys without finding at 
least one of them ensconced in the umbrageous hall, and 
enthroned upon its natural throne ? Those who would 
hesitate at such a wager, have either never been boys 
themselves, or have forgotten the boyish nature. I repeat 
— it is exceedingly hard to comprehend how the articles 
could have remained in this thicket undiscovered, for a 
longer period than one or two days ; and that thus there 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 37 1 

is good ground for suspicion, in spite of the dogmatic 
ignorance of Le Soleil, that they were, at a comparatively 
late date, deposited where found. 

" But there are still other and stronger reasons for believ-i 
ing them so deposited, than any which I have as yet 
urged. And, now, let me beg your notice to the highly 
artificial arrangement of the articles. On the upper stone 
lay a white petticoat ; on the second, a silk scarf ; scattered 
around, were a parasol, gloves, and a pocket-handkerchief 
bearing the name ' Marie Roget.' Here is just such an 
arrangement as would naturally be made by a not-over- 
acute person wishing to dispose the articles naturally. 
But it is by no means a really natural arrangement. I 
should rather have looked to see the things all lying on 
the ground and trampled under foot. In the narrow 
limits of that bower, it would have been scarcely possible 
that the petticoat and scarf should have retained a posi- 
tion upon the stones, when subjected to the brushing to 
and fro of many struggling persons. 'There was evi- 
dence/ it is said, ' of a struggle ; and the earth was tram- 
pled, the bushes were broken,' — but the petticoat and the 
scarf are found deposited as if upon shelves. ' The pieces 
of the frock torn out by the bushes were about three inches 
wide and six inches long. One part was the hem of the 
frock and it had been mended. They looked like strips torn 
off: Here, inadvertently, Le Soldi has employed an ex- 
ceedingly suspicious phrase. The pieces, as described, do 
indeed ' look like strips torn off ' ; but purposely and by 



37 2 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

hand. It is one of the rarest of accidents that a piece is 
1 torn off,' from any garment such as is now in question, by 
the agency of a thorn. From the very nature of such 
fabrics, a thorn or nail becoming tangled in them, tears 
them rectangularly — divides them into two longitudinal 
rents, at right angles with each other, and meeting at an 
apex where the thorn enters — but it is scarcely possible 
to conceive the piece ' torn off/ I never so knew it, nor 
did you. To tear a piece offivom such fabric, two distinct 
forces, in different directions, will be, in almost every case, 
required. If there be two edges to the fabric — if, for ex- 
ample, it be a pocket-handkerchief, and it is desired to tear 
from it a slip, then, and then only, will the one force serve 
the purpose. But in the present case the question is of 
a dress, presenting but one edge. To tear a piece from 
the interior, where no edge is presented, could only be 
effected by a miracle through the agency of thorns, and 
no one thorn could accomplish it. But, even where an 
edge is presented, two thorns will be necessary, operating, 
the one in two distinct directions, and the other in one. 
And this in the supposition that the edge is unhemmed. 
If hemmed, the matter is nearly out of the question. We 
thus see the numerous and great obstacles in the way of 
pieces being i torn off ' through the simple agency of 
1 thorns ' ; yet we are required to believe not only that one 
piece but that many have been so torn. ' And one part,' 
too, ' was the hem of the frock ' / Another piece was 
'part of the skirt, not the hern] — that is to say, was torn com- 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 373 

pletely out, through the agency of thorns, from the un- 
edged interior of the dress ! These, I say, are things which 
one may well be pardoned for disbelieving ; yet, taken 
collectedly, they form, perhaps, less of reasonable ground 
for suspicion, than the one startling circumstance of the 
articles having been left in this thicket at all, by any 
murderers who had enough precaution to think of remov- 
ing the corpse. You will not have apprehended me rightly, 
however, if you suppose it my design to deny this thicket 
as the scene of the outrage. There might have been a 
wrong here, or, more possibly, an accident at Madame 
Deluc's. But, in fact, this is a point of minor importance. 

fWe are not engaged in an attempt to discover the scene, 
but to produce the perpetrators of the murder. What I 
have adduced, notwithstanding the minuteness with which 
I have adduced it, has been with the view, first, to show 
the folly of the positive and headlong assertions of Le 
Soleil, but secondly and chiefly, to bring you, by the most 
natural route, to a further contemplation of the doubt 
whether this assassination has, or has not, been the work 
of a gang. 

"We will resume this question by mere allusion to the 
revolting details of the surgeon examined at the inquest. 
It is only necessary to say that his published inferences, 
in regard to the number of the ruffians, have been prop- 
erly ridiculed as unjust and totally baseless, by all the 
reputable anatomists of Paris. Not that the matter might 
not have been as inferred, but that there was no ground 
for the inference : — was there not much for another? 



374 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

" Let us reflect now upon ' the traces of a struggle ' ; and 
let me ask what these traces have been supposed to demon- 
strate. A gang. But do they not rather demonstrate the' 
absence of a gang? What struggle could have taken 
place — what struggle so violent and so enduring as to 
have left its ' traces ' in all directions — between a weak 
and defenceless girl and the gang of ruffians imagined ? 
The silent grasp of a few rough arms and all would have 
been over. The victim must have been absolutely passive 
at their will. You will here bear in mind that the argu- 
ments urged against the thicket as the scene, are applica- 
ble, in chief part, only against it as the scene of an out- 
rage committed by more than a single individual. If we 
imagine but one violator, we can conceive, and thus only 
conceive, the struggle of so violent and so obstinate a 
nature as to have left the ' traces ' apparent. 

"And again. I have already mentioned the suspicion 
to be excited by the fact that the articles in question 
were suffered to remain at all in the thicket where dis- 
covered. It seems almost impossible that these evidences 
of guilt should have been accidentally left where found. 
There was sufficient presence of mind (it is supposed) to 
remove the corpse ; and yet a more positive evidence 
than the corpse itself (whose features might have been 
quickly obliterated by decay), is allowed to lie conspicu- 
ously in the scene of the outrage — I allude to the hand- 
kerchief with the name of the deceased. If this was ac- 
cident, it was not the accident of a gang. We can im- 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 375 

agine it only the accident of an individual. Let us see. 
An individual has committed the murder. He is alone 
with the ghost of the departed. He is appalled by what 
lies motionless before him. The fury of his passion is 
over, and there is abundant room in his heart for the 
natural awe of the deed. His is none of that confidence 
which the presence of numbers inevitably inspires. He 
is alone with the dead. He trembles and is bewildered. 
Yet there is a necessity for disposing of the corpse. He 
bears it to the river, and leaves behind him the other evi- 
dences of his guilt ; for it is difficult, if not impossible to 
carry all the burthen at once, and it will be easy to return 
for what is left. But in his toilsome journey to the water 
his fears redouble within him. The sounds of life encom- 
pass his path. A dozen times he hears or fancies he hears 
the step of an observer. Even the very lights from the 
city bewilder him. Yet, in time, and by long and frequent 
pauses of deep agony, he reaches the river's brink, and 
disposes of his ghastly charge — perhaps through the 
medium of a boat. But now what treasure does the 
world hold — what threat of vengeance could it hold out — 
which would have power to urge the return of that lonely 
murderer over that toilsome and perilous path, to the 
thicket and its blood-chilling recollections? He returns 
not, let the consequences be what they may. He could not 
return if he would. His sole thought is immediate es- 
cape. He turns his back forever upon those dreadful 
shrubberies, and flees as from the wrath to come. 



37 6 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

"But how with a gang? Their number would have 
inspired them with confidence; if, indeed, confidence is 
ever wanting in the breast of the arrant blackguard ; and 
of arrant blackguards alone are the supposed gangs ever 
constituted. Their number, I say, would have prevented 
the bewildering and unreasoning terror which I have 
imagined to paralyze the single man. Could we suppose 
an oversight in one, or two, or three, this oversight would 
have been remedied by a fourth. They would have left 
nothing behind them ; for their number would have 
enabled them to carry all at once. There would have 
been no need of return. 

" Consider now the circumstance that, in the outer 
garment of the corpse when found, ' a slip, about a foot 
wide, had been torn upward from the bottom hem to the 
waist, wound three times round the waist, and secured by 
a sort of hitch in the back.' This was done with the 
obvious design of affording a handle by which to carry the 
body. But would any number of men have dreamed of 
resorting to such an expedient ? To three or four, the limbs 
of the corpse would have afforded not only a sufficient, 
but the best possible, hold. The device is that of a single 
individual ; and this brings us to the fact that ' between 
the thicket and the river the rails of the fences were 
found taken down, and the ground bore evident traces of 
some heavy burden having been dragged along it ! ' But 
would a number of men have put themselves to the super- 
fluous trouble of taking down a fence, for the purpose of 



THE MYSTERY OE MARIE ROGET. 377 

dragging through it a corpse which they might have lifted 
over any fence in an instant ? Would a number of men 
have so dragged a corpse at all as to have left evident 
traces of the dragging? 

M And here we must refer to an observation of Le Com- 
merciel; an observation upon which I have already, in 
some measure, commented. ' A piece/ says this journal, 
' of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats was torn out 
and tied under her chin, and around the back of her head, 
probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows 
who had no pocket-handkerchiefs.' 

" I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard is 
never without a pocket-handkerchief. But it is not to 
this fact that I now especially advert. That it was not 
through want of a handkerchief for the purpose imagined 
by Le Commerciel, that this bandage was employed, is 
rendered apparent by the handkerchief left in the thicket ; 
and that the object was not ' to prevent screams ' appears, 
also, from the bandage having been employed in prefer- 
ence to what would so much better have answered the 
purpose. But the language of the evidence speaks of 
the strip in question as ' found around the neck, fitting 
loosely, and secured with a hard knot.' These words are 
sufficiently vague, but differ materially from those of Le 
Commerciel. The slip was eighteen inches wide, and 
therefore, although of muslin, would form a strong band 
when folded or rumpled longitudinally. And thus 
rumpled it was discovered. My inference is this. The 



378 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

solitary murderer, having borne the corpse for some 
distance (whether from the thicket or elsewhere) by 
means of the bandage hitched around its middle, found 
the weight, in this mode of procedure, too much for his 
strength. He resolved to drag the burthen — the evidence 
goes to show that it was dragged. With this object in 
view, it became necessary to attach something like a rope 
to one of the extremities. It could be best attached 
about the neck, where the head would prevent its slipping 
off. And now the murderer bethought him, unquestion- 
ably, of the bandage about the loins. He would have 
used this, but for its volution about the corpse, the hitch 
which embarrassed it, and the reflection that it had not 
been ' torn off ' from the garment. It was easier to tear a 
new slip from the petticoat. He tore it, made it fast 
about the neck, and so dragged his victim to the brink of 
the river. That this ' bandage/ only attainable with 
trouble and delay, and but imperfectly answering its pur- 
pose — that this bandage was employed at all, demon- 
strates that the necessity for its employment sprang from 
circumstances arising at a period when the handkerchief 
was no longer attainable — that is to say, arising, as we 
have imagined, after quitting the thicket (if the thicket 
it was), and on the road between the thicket and the 
river. 

" But the evidence, you will say, of Madame Deluc (!) 
points especially to the presence of a gang m the vicinity 
of the thicket, at or about the epoch of the murder. This 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 379 

I grant. I doubt if there were not a dozen gangs, such as 
described by Madame Deluc, in and about the vicinity of 
the Barriere du Roule at or about the period of this tra- 
gedy. But the gang which has drawn upon itself the 
pointed animadversion, although the somewhat tardy and 
very suspicious evidence, of Madame Deluc, is the only 
gang which is represented by that honest and scrupulous 
old lady as having eaten her cakes and swallowed her 
brandy, without putting themselves to the trouble of 
making her payment. Et hinc illce irce ? 

" But what is the precise evidence of Madame Deluc? 
' A gang of miscreants made their appearance, behaved 
boisterously, ate and drank without making payment, fol- 
lowed in the route of the young man and the girl, returned 
to the inn about dusk, and re-crossed the river as if in great 
haste.' 

" Now this ' great haste ' very possibly seemed greater 
haste in the eyes of Madame Deluc, since she dwelt 
lingeringly and lamentingly upon her violated cakes and 
ale, — cakes and ale for which she might still have enter- 
tained a faint hope of compensation. Why, otherwise, 
since it was about dusk, should she make a point of the 
haste ? It is no cause for wonder, surely, that even a 
gang of blackguards should make haste to get home when 
a wide river is to be crossed in small boats, when storm 
impends, and when night approaches, 

" I say approaches ; for the night had not yet arrived. 
It was only about dusk that the indecent haste of these 



3 SO THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

1 miscreants ' offended the sober eyes of Madame Deluc. 
But we are told that it was upon this very evening that 
Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, ' heard the 
screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn.' And in 
what words does Madame Deluc designate the period of 
the evening at which these screams were heard ? ' It was 
soon after dark,' she says. But ' soon after dark ' is, at 
least, dark ; and ' about dusk ' is as certainly daylight. 
Thus it is abundantly clear that the gang quitted the 
Barriere du Roule prior to the screams overheard (?) by 
Madame Deluc. And although, in all the many reports 
of the evidence, the relative expressions in question are 
distinctly and invariably employed just as I have em- 
ployed them in this conversation with yourself, no notice 
whatever of the gross discrepancy has, as yet, been taken 
by any of the public journals, or by any of the myrmidons 
of police. 

" I shall add but one to the arguments against a gang ; 
but this one has, to my own understanding at least, a 
weight altogether irresistible. Under the circumstances 
of large reward offered, and full pardon to any king's evi- 
dence, it is not to be imagined, for a moment, that some 
member of a gang of low ruffians, or of any body of men, 
would not long ago have betrayed his accomplices. Each 
one of a gang, so placed, is not so much greedy of reward, 
or anxious for escape, as fearful of betrayal. He betrays 
eagerly and early that he may not himself be betrayed. 
That the secret has not been divulged is the very best of 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 38 1 

proof that it is, in fact, a secret. The horrors of this dark 
deed are known only to one, or two, living human beings, 
and to God. 

" Let us sum up now the meagre yet certain fruits of 
our long analysis. We have attained the idea either of a 
fatal accident under the roof of Madame Deluc, or of a 
murder perpetrated, in the thicket at the Barriere du 
Roule, by a lover, or at least by an intimate and secret 
associate of the deceased. This associate is of swarthy 
complexion. This complexion, the ' hitch ' in the band- 
age, and the ' sailor's knot ' with which the bonnet-ribbon 
is tied, point to a seaman, His companionship with the 
deceased — a gay but not an abject young girl — designates 
him as above the grade of the common sailor. Here the 
well-written and urgent communications to the journals 
are much in the way of corroboration. The circumstance 
of the first elopement, as mentioned by Le Mercurie, tends 
to blend the idea of this seaman with that of the ' naval 
officer ' who is first known to have led the unfortunate 
into crime. 

" And here, most fitly, comes the consideration of the 
continued absence of him of the dark complexion. Let 
me pause to observe that the complexion of this man is 
dark and swarthy ; it was no common swarthiness which 
constituted the sole point of remembrance, both as regards 
Valence and Madame Deluc. But why is this man ab- 
sent ? Was he murdered by the gang ? If so, why are 
there only traces of the assassinated girl ? The scene of 



382 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

the two outrages will naturally be supposed identical. 
And where is his corpse ? The assassins would most 
probably have disposed of both in the same way. But it 
may be said that this man lives, and is deterred from 
making himself known, through dread of being charged 
with the murder. This consideration might be supposed 
to operate upon him now — at this late period — since it 
has been given in evidence that he was seen with Marie, 
but it would have had no force at the period of the 
deed. The first impulse of an innocent man would have 
been to announce the outrage, and to aid in identifying 
the ruffians. This policy would have suggested. He had 
been seen with the girl. He had crossed the river with 
her in an open ferry-boat. The denouncing of the assassins 
would have appeared, even to an idiot, the surest and sole 
means of relieving himself from suspicion. We cannot 
suppose him, on the night of the fatal Sunday, both in- 
nocent himself and incognizant of an outrage committed. 
Yet only under such circumstances is it possible to imag- 
ine that he would have failed, if alive, in the denounce- 
ment of the assassins. 

" And what means are ours of attaining the truth ? 
We shall find these means multiplying and gathering 
distinctness as we proceed. Let us sift to the bottom 
this affair of the first elopement. Let us know the full 
history of ' the officer,' with his present circumstances, 
and his whereabouts at the precise period of the murder. 
Let us carefully compare with each other the various 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 383 

communications sent to the evening paper, in which the 
object was to inculpate a gang. This done, let us com- 
pare these communications, both as regards style and 
MS., with those sent to the morning paper, at a previous 
period, and insisting so vehemently upon the guilt of 
Mennais. And, all this done, let us again compare these 
various communications with the known MSS. of the 
officer. Let us endeavor to ascertain, by repeated ques- 
tionings of Madame Deluc and her boys, as well as of the 
omnibus-driver, Valence, something more of the personal 
appearance and bearing of the ' man of dark complexion/ 
Queries, skilfully directed, will not fail to elicit, from 
some of these parties, information on this particular point 
(or upon others) — information which the parties them- 
selves may not even be aware of possessing. And let us 
now trace the boat picked up by the bargeman on the 
morning of Monday the twenty-third of June, and which 
was removed from the barge-office, without the cognizance 
of the officer in attendance, and without the rudder, at 
some period prior to the discovery of the corpse. With a 
proper caution and perseverance we shall infallibly trace 
this boat ; for not only can the bargeman who picked it 
up identify it, but the rudder is at hand. The rudder 
of a sail boat -would not have been abandoned, without 
inquiry, by one altogether at ease in heart. And here let 
me pause to insinuate a question. There was no adver- 
tisement of the picking up of this boat. It was silently 
taken to the barge-office, and as silently removed. But 



384 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

its owner or employer — how happened he, at so early a 
period as Tuesday morning, to be informed, without the 
agency of advertisement, of the locality of the boat taken 
up on Monday, unless we imagine some connection with 
the navy — some personal permanent connection leading 
to cognizance of its minute interests — its petty local 
news ? 

" In speaking of the lonely assassin dragging his burden 
to the shore, I have already suggested the probability of 
his availing himself of a boat. Now we are to understand 
that Marie Roget was precipitated from a boat. This 
would naturally have been the case. The corpse could 
not have been trusted to the shallow waters of the shore. 
The peculiar marks on the back and shoulders of the 
victim tell of the bottom ribs of a boat. That the body 
was found without weight is also corroborative of the idea. 
If thrown from the shore a weight would have been at- 
tached. We can only account for its absence by suppos- 
ing the murderer to have neglected the precaution of 
supplying himself with it before pushing off. In the act 
of consigning the corpse to the water, he would unques- 
tionably have noticed his oversight ; but then no remedy 
would have been at hand. Any risk would have been 
preferred to a return to that accursed shore. Having rid 
himself of his ghastly charge, the murderer would have 
hastened to the city. There, at some obscure wharf, he 
would have leaped on land. But the boat — would he have 
secured it ? He would have been in too great haste for 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 385 

such things as securing a boat. Moreover, in fastening it 
to the wharf, he would have felt as if securing evidence 
against himself. His natural thought would have been to 
cast from him, as far as possible, all that had held connec- 
tion with his crime. He would not only have fled from 
the wharf, but he would not have permitted the boat to 
remain. Assuredly he would have cast it adrift. Let us 
pursue our fancies. — In the morning, the wretch is stricken 
with unutterable horror at finding that the boat has 
been picked up and detained at a locality which he is in 
the daily habit of frequenting — at a locality, perhaps, 
which his duty compels him to frequent. The next night, 
without daring to ask for the rudder, he removes it. Now 
where is that rudderless boat ? Let it be one of our first 
purposes to discover. With the first glimpse we obtain 
of it, the dawn of our success shall begin. This boat shall 
guide us, with a rapidity which will surprise even our- 
selves, to him who employed it in the midnight of the 
fatal Sabbath. Corroboration will rise upon corrobora- 
tion, and the murderer will be traced." 

[For reasons which we shall not specify, but which to 
many readers will appear obvious, we have taken the lib- 
erty of here omitting, from the MSS. placed in our hands, 
such portion as details the following up of the apparently 
slight clew obtained by Dupin. We feel it advisable only 
to state, in brief, that the result desired was brought to 
pass ; and that the Prefect fulfilled punctually, although 
with reluctance, the terms of his compact with the Chev- 



386 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

alier. Mr. Poe's article concludes with the following 
words. — Eds.*~\ 

It will be understood that I speak of coincidences and 
no more. What I have said above upon this topic must 
suffice. In my own heart there dwells no faith in praeter- 
nature. That Nature and its God are two, no man who 
thinks will deny. That the latter, creating the former, 
can, at will, control or modify it, is also unquestionable. 
I say " at will " ; for the question is of will, and not, as 
the insanity of logic has assumed, of power. It is not that 
the Deity cannot modify his laws, but that we insult him 
in imagining a possible necessity for modification. In 
their origin these laws were fashioned to embrace all con- 
tingencies which could lie in the Future. With God all is 
Now. 

I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as of 
coincidences. And further: in what I relate it will be 
seen that between the fate of the unhappy Mary Cecilia 
Rogers, so far as that fate is known, and the fate of one 
Marie Roget up to a certain epoch in her history, there 
has existed a parallel in the contemplation of whose won- 
derful exactitude the reason becomes embarrassed. I say 
all this will be seen. But let it not for a moment be sup- 
posed that, in proceeding with the sad narrative of Marie 
from the epoch just mentioned, and in tracing to its de- 
nouement the mystery which enshrouded her, it is my 
covert design to hint at an extension of the parallel, or 

* Of the Magazine in which the article was originally published. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 387 

even to suggest that the measures adopted in Paris for 
the discovery of the assassin of a grisette, or measures 
founded in any similar ratiocination, would produce any 
similar result. 

For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, 
it should be considered that the most trifling variation in 
the facts of the two cases might give rise to the most im- 
portant miscalculations, by diverting thoroughly the two 
courses of events ; very much as, in arithmetic, an error 
which, in its own individuality, may be inappreciable, pro- 
duces, at length, by dint of multiplication at all points of 
the process, a result enormously at variance with truth. 
And, in regard to the former branch, we must not fail to 
hold in view that the very Calculus of Probabilities to 
which I have referred, forbids all idea of the extension of 
the parallel, — forbids it with a positiveness strong and 
decided just in proportion as this parallel has already been 
long-drawn and exact. This is one of those anomalous 
propositions which, seemingly appealing to thought alto- 
gether apart from the mathematical, is yet one which 
only the mathematician can fully entertain. Nothing, for 
example, is more difficult than to convince the merely 
general reader that the fact of sixes having been thrown 
twice in succession by a player at dice, is sufficient cause 
for betting the largest odds that sixes will not be thrown 
in the third attempt. A suggestion to this effect is usu- 
ally rejected by the intellect at once. It does not appear 
that the two throws which have been completed, and 



388 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET. 

which lie now absolutely in the Past, can have influence 
upon the throw which exists only in the Future. The 
chance for throwing sixes seems to be precisely as it was 
at any ordinary time — that is to say, subject only to the 
influence of the various other throws which may be made 
by the dice. And this is a reflection which appears so ex- 
ceedingly obvious that attempts to controvert it are re- 
ceived more frequently with a derisive smile than with 
any thing like respectful attention. The error here in- 
volved — a gross error redolent of mischief — I cannot pre- 
tend to expose within the limits assigned me at present ; 
and with the philosophical it needs no exposure. It may 
be sufficient here to say that it forms one of an infinite 
series of mistakes which arise in the path of Reason 
through her propensity for seeking truth in detail. 





THE PURLOINED LETTER. 



Nil sapientise odiosius acumine nimio. — Seneca, 

AT Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the 
autumn of 18 — , I was enjoying the twofold luxury 
of meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my 
friend, C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library, or book- 
closet, au troisieme. No. 33 Rue Dunot y Faubourg St. Ger- 
main. For one hour at least we had maintained a pro- 
found silence ; while each, to any casual observer, might 
have seemed intently and exclusively occupied with the 
curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmosphere of 
the chamber. For myself, however, I was mentally dis- 
cussing certain topics which had formed matter for con- 
versation between us at an earlier period of the evening ; 
I mean the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the mystery 
attending the murder of Marie Roget. I looked upon it, 
therefore, as something of a coincidence, when the door 
of our apartment was thrown open and admitted our old 

acquaintance, Monsieur G , the Prefect of the Parisian 

police. 

We gave him a hearty welcome ; for there was nearly 

389 



39° THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible 
about the man, and we had not seen him for several years. 
We had been sitting in the dark, and Dupin now arose for 
the purpose of lighting a lamp, but sat down again, with- 
out doing so, upon G.'s saying that he had called to 
consult us, or rather to ask the opinion of my friend, 
about some official business which had occasioned a great 
deal of trouble. 

"If it is any point requiring reflection," observed 
Dupin, as he forebore to enkindle the wick, " we shall 
examine it to better purpose in the dark." 

" That is another of your odd notions," said the Pre- 
fect, who had the fashion of calling every thing " odd " 
that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid 
an absolute legion of " oddities." 

"Very true," said Dupin, as he supplied his visitor with 
a pipe, and rolled toward him a comfortable chair. 

" And what is the difficulty now ? " I asked. " Nothing 
more in the assassination way I hope?" 

" Oh, no ; nothing of that nature. The fact is, the 
business is very simple indeed, and I make no doubt that 
we can manage it sufficiently well ourselves ; but then I 
thought Dupin would like to -hear the details of it, be- 
cause it is so excessively odd." 

" Simple and odd," said Dupin. 

" Why, yes ; and not exactly that either. The fact is, 
we have all been a good deal puzzled because the affair is 
so simple, and yet baffles us altogether." 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 39 1 

" Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing which 
puts you at fault," said my friend. 

" What nonsense you do talk ! " replied the Prefect, 
laughing heartily. 

" Perhaps the mystery is a little too plain/' said Dupin. 

" Oh, good heavens ! who ever heard of such an idea ? " 

" A little too self-evident." 

" Ha ! ha ! ha !— ha ! ha ! ha !— ho ! ho ! ho ! " roared 
our visitor, profoundly amused, " oh, Dupin, you will be 
the death of me yet ! " 

"And what, after all, is the matter on hand?" I 
asked. 

" Why, I will tell you," replied the Prefect, as he gave 
a long, steady, and contemplative puff, and settled him- 
self in his chair. " I will tell you in a few words ; but, be- 
fore I begin, let me caution you that this is an affair 
demanding the greatest secrecy, and that I should most 
probably lose the position I now hold, were it known that 
I confided it to any one." 

" Proceed," said I. 

" Or not," said Dupin. 

" Well, then ; I have received personal information, from 
a very high quarter, that a certain document of the last 
importance has been purloined from the royal apartments. 
The individual who purloined it is known ; this beyond a 
doubt ; he was seen to take it. It is known, also, that it 
still remains in his possession." 

" How is this known ? " asked Dupin. 



392 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

" It is clearly inferred," replied the Prefect, " from the 
nature of the document, and from the non-appearance of 
certain results which would at once arise from its passing 
out of the robber's possession — that is to say, from his 
employing it as he must design in the end to employ it." 

" Be a little more explicit," I said. 

" Well, I may venture so far as to say that the paper 
gives its holder a certain power in a certain quarter where 
such power is immensely valuable." The Prefect was fond 
of the cant of diplomacy. 

" Still I do not quite understand," said Dupin. 

" No ? Well ; the disclosure of the document to a third 
person, who shall be nameless, would bring in question 
the honor of a personage of most exalted station ; and 
this fact gives the holder of the document an ascendancy 
over the illustrious personage whose honor and peace are 
so jeopardized." 

''But this ascendancy," I interposed, "would depend 
upon the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of 
the robber. Who would dare — " 

" The thief," said G., " is the Minister D , who dares 

all things, those unbecoming as well as those becoming a 
man. The method of the theft was not less ingenious 
than bold. The document in question — a letter, to be 
frank — had been received by the personage robbed while 
alone in the royal boudoir. During its perusal she was 
suddenly interrupted by the entrance of the other exalted 
personage from whom especially it was her wish to con- 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 393 

ceal it. After a hurried and vain endeavor to thrust it in 
a drawer, she was forced to place it, open as it was, upon 
a table. The address, however, was uppermost, and, the 
contents thus unexposed, the letter escaped notice, At 

this juncture enters the Minister D . His lynx eye 

immediately perceives the paper, recognizes the hand- 
writing of the address, observes the confusion of the per- 
sonage addressed, and fathoms her secret. After some 
business transactions, hurried through in his ordinary 
manner, he produces a letter somewhat similar to the one 
in question, opens it, pretends to read it, and then places 
it in close juxtaposition to the other. Again he converses, 
for some fifteen minutes, upon the public affairs. At 
length, in taking leave, he takes also from the table the 
letter to which he had no claim. Its rightful owner saw, 
but, of course, dared not call attention to the act, in the 
presence of the third personage who stood at her elbow. 
The minister decamped ; leaving his own letter — one of 
no importance — upon the table." 

" Here, then," said Dupin to me, "you have precisely 
what you demand to make the ascendancy complete — the 
robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber." 

" Yes," replied the Prefect ; " and the power thus at- 
tained has, for some months past, been wielded, for politi- 
cal purposes, to a very dangerous extent. The personage 
robbed is more thoroughly convinced, every day, of the 
necessity of reclaiming her letter. But this, of course, 
cannot be done openly. In fine, driven to despair, she has 
committed the matter to me." 



394 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

" Than whom," said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind 
of smoke, ". no more sagacious agent could, I suppose, be 
desired, or even imagined." 

. " You flatter me," replied the Prefect ; " but it is pos- 
sible that some such opinion may have been entertained." 

" It is clear," said I, "as you observe, that the letter is 
still in the possession of the minister ; since it is this pos- 
session, and not any employment of the letter, which 
bestows the power. With the employment the power 
departs." 

" True," said G.; " and upon this conviction I proceeded. 
My first care was to make thorough search of the minister's 
hotel ; and here my chief embarrassment lay in the neces- 
sity of searching without his knowledge. Beyond all 
things, I have been warned of the danger which would re- 
sult from giving him reason to suspect our design." 

" But," said I, " you are quite au fait in these investiga- 
tions. The Parisian police have done this thing often 
before." 

" Oh, yes ; and for this reason I did not despair. The 
habits of the minister gave me, too, a great advantage. 
He is frequently absent from home all night. His ser- 
vants are by no means numerous. They sleep at a dis- 
tance from their master's apartment, and, being chiefly 
Neapolitans, are readily made drunk. I have keys, as you 
know, with which I can open any chamber or cabinet in 
Paris. For three months a night has not passed, during 
the greater part of which I have not been engaged, per- 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 395 

sonally, in ransacking the D Hotel. My honor is 

interested, and, to mention a great secret, the reward is 
enormous. So I did not abandon the search until I had 
become fully satisfied that the thief is a more astute man 
than myself. I fancy that I have investigated every nook 
and corner of the premises in which it is possible that the 
paper can be concealed." 

" But is it not possible," I suggested, " that although 
the letter may be in possession of the minister, as it 
unquestionably is, he may have concealed it elsewhere 
than upon his own premises? " 

"This is barely possible," said Dupin. "The present 
peculiar condition of affairs at court, and especially of 

those intrigues in which D is known to be involved, 

would render the instant availability of the document — 
its susceptibility of being produced at a moment's notice 
— a point of nearly equal importance with its possession." 

" Its susceptibility of being produced?" said I. 

" That is to say, of being destroyed" said Dupin. 

"True," I observed; "the paper is clearly then upon 
the premises. As for its being upon the person of the 
minister, we may consider that as out of the question." 

" Entirely," said the Prefect. "He has been twice way- 
laid, as if by footpads, and his person rigidly searched 
under my own inspection." 

" You might have spared yourself this trouble," said 

Dupin. " D , I presume, is not altogether a fool, and, 

if not, must have anticipated these waylayings, as a matter 
of course." 



396 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

" Not altogether a fool," said G., " but then he is a poet, 
which I take to be only one remove from a fool." 

" True," said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff 
from his meerschaum, " although I have been guilty of 
certain doggrel myself." 

" Suppose you detail," said I, " the particulars of your 
search." 

" Why, the fact is, we took our time, and we searched 
everywhere. I have had long experience in these affairs. 
I took the entire building, room by room ; devoting the 
nights of a whole week to each. We examined, first, the 
furniture of each apartment. We opened every possible 
drawer ; and I presume you know that, to a properly 
trained police-agent, such a thing as a ' secret * drawer is 
impossible. Any man is a dolt who permits a ' secret ' 
drawer to escape him in a search of this kind. The thing 
is so plain. There is a certain amount of bulk — of space 
— to be accounted for in every cabinet. Then we have 
accurate rules. The fiftieth part of a line could not escape 
us. After the cabinets we took the chairs. The cushions 
we probed with the fine long needles you have seen me 
employ. From the tables we removed the tops." 

" Why so ? " 

" Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly 
arranged piece of furniture, is removed by the person 
wishing to conceal an article ; then the leg is excavated, 
the article deposited within the cavity, and the top re- 
placed. The bottoms and tops of bedposts are employed 
in the same way." 



THE PURLOINED LETTER, 397 

" But could not the cavity .be detected by sounding ? " 
I asked. 

" By no means, if, when the article is deposited, a suffi- 
cient wadding of cotton be placed around it. Besides, in 
our case, we were obliged to proceed without noise." 

" But you could not have removed — you could not have 
taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which it would 
have been possible to make. a deposit in the manner you 
mention. A letter may be compressed into a thin spiral 
-oil, not differing much in shape or bulk from a large 
:nitting-needle, and in this form it might be inserted into 
the rung of a chair, for example. You did not take to 
pieces all the chairs ? " 

" Certainly not ; but we did better — we examined the 
rungs of every chair in the hotel, and, indeed, the joint- 
ings of every description of furniture, by the aid of a most 
powerful microscope. Had there been any traces of 
recent disturbance we should not have failed to detect it 
instantly. A single grain of gimlet-dust, for example, 
would have been as obvious as an apple. Any disorder 
in the gluing — any unusual gaping in the joints — would 
have sufficed to insure detection." 

" I presume you looked to the mirrors, between the 
boards and the plates, and you probed the beds and the 
bedclothes, as well as the curtains and carpets." 

" That of course ; and when we had absolutely com- 
pleted every particle of the furrjiture in this way, then we 
examined the house itself. We divided its entire surface 



398 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

into compartments, which we numbered, so that none 
might be missed ; then we scrutinized each individual 
square inch throughout the premises, including the two 
houses immediately adjoining, with the microscope, as 
before." 

" The two houses adjoining ! " I exclaimed ; "you must 
have had a great deal of trouble." 

" We had ; but the reward offered is prodigious." 
" You include the grounds about the houses ? " 
" All the grounds are paved with brick. They gave us 
comparatively little trouble. We examined the moss be- 
tween the bricks, and found it undisturbed." 

" You looked among D 's papers, of course, and into 

the books of the library ? " 

" Certainly ; we opened every package and parcel ; we 
not only opened every book, but we turned over evei 
leaf in each volume, not contenting ourselves with a men 
shake, according to the fashion of some of our police offi- 
cers. We also measured the thickness of every book- 
cover, with the most accurate admeasurement, and applied 
to each the most jealous scrutiny of the microscope. Had 
any of the bindings been recently meddled with, it would 
have been utterly impossible that the fact should have 
escaped observation. Some five or six volumes, just from 
the hands of the binder, we carefully probed, longitu- 
dinally, with the needles." 

" You explored the floors beneath the carpets ? " 
" Beyond doubt. We removed every carpet, and ex- 
amined the boards with the microscope." 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 399 

" And the paper on the walls ? " 

"Yes." 

" You looked into the cellars ? " 

"We did." 

" Then," I said, "you have been making a miscalcula- 
tion, and the letter is not upon the premises, as you sup- 
pose." 

" I fear you are right there," said the Prefect. "And 
now, Dupin, what would you advise me to do?" 

" To make a thorough research of the premises." 

" That is absolutely needless," replied G . " I am 

not more sure that I breathe than I am that the letter is 
not at the hotel." 

" I have no better advice to give you," said Dupin. 
"You have, of course, an accurate description of the 
letter?" 

" Oh, yes ! " — And here the Prefect, producing a memo- 
randum-book, proceeded to read aloud a minute account of 
the internal, and especially of the external, appearance of 
the missing document. Soon after finishing the perusal of 
this description, he took his departure, more entirely 
depressed in spirits than I had ever known the good 
gentleman before. 

In about a month afterward he paid us another visit, 
and found us occupied very nearly as before. He took a 
pipe and a chair and entered into some ordinary conversa- 
tion. At length I said : 

" Well, but G , what of the purloined letter ? I pre- 



400 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

sume you have at last made up your mind that there is no 
such thing as overreaching the Minister? " 

" Confound him, say I — yes ; I made the re-examina- 
tion, however, as Dupin suggested — but it was all labor 
lost, as I knew it would be." 

"How much was the reward offered, did you say?" 
asked Dupin. 

"Why, a very great deal — a very liberal reward — I don't 
like to say how much, precisely ; but one thing I will say, 
that I would n't mind giving my individual check for fifty 
thousand francs to any one who could obtain me that 
letter. The fact is, it is becoming of more and more im- 
portance every day ; and the reward has been lately 
doubled. If it were trebled, however, I could do no more 
than I have done." 

" Why, yes," said Dupin, drawlingly, between the whiffs 

of his meerschaum, " I really — think, G , you have not 

exerted yourself — to the utmost in this matter. You 
might — do a little more, I think, eh ? " 

" How? — in what way ? " 

"Why — puff, puff — you might — puff, puff — employ 
counsel in the matter, eh ? — puff, puff, puff. Do you re- 
member the story they tell of Abernethy ? " 

" No ; hang Abernethy ! " 

" To be sure ! hang him and welcome. But, once upon 
a time, a certain rich miser conceived the design of spun- 
ging upon this Abernethy for a medical opinion. Getting 
up, for this purpose, an ordinary conversation in a private 






THE PURLOINED LETTER. 40 1 



company, he insinuated his case to the physician, as that 
of an imaginary individual. 

" ' We will suppose,' said the miser, ' that his symptoms 
are such and such ; now, doctor, what would you have 
directed him to take ? ' 

" ' Take ! ' said Abernethy, ' why, take advice, to be 
sure.' " 

" But," said the Prefect, a little discomposed, " / am 
perfectly willing to take advice, and to pay for it. I would 
really give fifty thousand francs to any one who would aid 
me in the matter." 

" In that case," replied Dupin, opening a drawer, and 
producing a check-book, " you may as well fill me up a 
check for the amount mentioned. When you have signed 
it, I will hand you the letter." 

I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely 
thunder-stricken. For some minutes he remained speech- 
less and motionless, looking incredulously at my friend 
with open mouth, and eyes that seemed starting from their 
sockets; then apparently recovering himself in some 
measure, he seized a pen, and after several pauses and 
vacant stares, finally filled up and signed a check for fifty 
thousand francs, and handed it across the table to Dupin. 
The latter examined it carefully and deposited it in his 
pocket-book ; then, unlocking an escritoire, took thence a 
letter and gave it to the Prefect. This functionary 
grasped it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with 
a trembling hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, 



402 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

and then, scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed 
at length unceremoniously from the room and from the 
house, without having uttered a syllable since Dupin had 
requested him to fill up the check. 

When he had gone, my friend entered into some ex- 
planations. 

" The Parisian police," he said, " are exceedingly able in 
their way. They are persevering, ingenious, cunning, and 
thoroughly versed in the knowledge which their duties 

seem chiefly to demand. Thus, when G detailed to 

us his mode of searching the premises at the Hotel D , 

I felt entire confidence in his having made a satisfactory 
investigation — so far as his labors extended." 

" So far as his labors extended ?" said I. 

" Yes," said Dupin. " The measures adopted were not 
only the best of their kind, but carried out to absolute 
perfection. Had the letter been deposited within the 
range of their search, these fellows would, beyond a ques- 
tion, have found it." 

I merely laughed — but he seemed quite serious in all 
that he said. 

" The measures, then," he continued, " were good in their 
kind, and well executed ; their defect lay in their being 
inapplicable to the case and to the man. A certain set 
of highly ingenious resources are, with the Prefect, a sort 
of Procrustean bed, to which he forcibly adapts his de- 
signs. But he perpetually errs by being too deep or too 
shallow for the matter in hand ; and many a school-boy is 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 403 

a better reasoner than he. I knew one about eight years 
of age, whose success at guessing in the game of ' even 
and odd ' attracted universal admiration. This game is 
simple, and is played with marbles. One player holds in 
his hand a number of these toys, and demands of another 
whether that number is even or odd. If the guess is 
right, the guesser wins one ; if wrong, he loses one. The 
boy to whom I allude won all the marbles of the school. 
Of course he had some principle of guessing ; and this 
lay in mere observation and admeasurement of the astute- 
ness of his opponents. For example, an arrant simpleton 
is his opponent, and, holding up his closed hand, asks, 
f Are they even or odd ? ' Our school-boy replies, '■ Odd,' 
and loses ; but upon the second trial he wins, for he then 
says to himself : ' The simpleton had them even upon the 
first trial, and his amount of cunning is just sufficient to 
make him have them odd upon the second ; I will there- 
fore guess odd ' ; — he guesses odd, and wins. Now, with 
a simpleton a degree above the first, he would have rea- 
soned thus : ' This fellow finds that in the first instance 
I guessed odd, and, in the second, he will propose to him- 
self, upon the first impulse, a simple variation from even 
to odd, as did the first simpleton ; but then a second 
thought will suggest that this is too simple a variation, 
and finally he will decide upon putting it even as before. 
I will therefore guess even ' ; — he guesses even, and wins. 
Now this mode of reasoning in the school-boy, whom his 
fellows termed ' lucky,' — what, in its last analysis, is it?" 



404 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

" It is merely," I said, " an identification of the rea- 
soner's intellect with that of his opponent." 

" It is," said Dupin ; " and, upon inquiring of the boy 
by what means he effected the thorough identification in 
which his success consisted, I received answer as follows : 
' When I wish to find out how wise, or how stupid, or how 
good, or how wicked is any one, or what are his thoughts 
at the moment, I fashion the expression of my face, as 
accurately as possible, in accordance with the expression 
of his, and then wait to see what thoughts or sentiments 
arise in my mind or heart, as if to match or correspond 
with the expression.' This response of the school-boy lies 
at the bottom of all the spurious profundity which has 
been attributed to Rochefoucault, to La Bougive, to 
Machiavelli, and to Campanella." 

" And the identification," I said, " of the reasoner's in- 
tellect with that of his opponent, depends, if I understand 
you aright, upon the accuracy with which the opponent's 
intellect is admeasured." 

" For its practical value it depends upon this," replied 
Dupin ; " and the Prefect and his cohort fail so fre- 
quently, first, by default of this identification, and, sec- 
ondly, by ill-admeasurement, ,or rather through non-ad- 
measurement, of the intellect with which they are engaged. 
They consider only their own ideas of ingenuity ; and, in 
searching for any thing hidden, advert only to the modes 
in which they would have hidden it. They are right in 
this much — that their own ingenuity is a faithful repre- 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 



405 



sentative of that of the mass ; but when the cunning of 
the individual felon is diverse in character from their own, 
the felon foils them, of course. This always happens 
when it is above their own, and very usually when it is 
below. They have no variation of principle in their 
investigations; at best, when urged by some unusual 
emergency — by some extraordinary reward — they extend 
or exaggerate their old modes of practice, without touch- 
ing their principles. What, for example, in this case of 

D , has been done to vary the principle of action? 

What is all this boring, and probing, and sounding, and 
scrutinizing with the microscope, and dividing the surface 
of the building into registered square inches — what is it 
all but an exaggeration of the application of the one prin- 
ciple or set of principles of search, which are based upon 
the one set of notions regarding human ingenuity, to 
which the Prefect, in the long routine of his duty, has 
been accustomed ? Do you not see he has taken it for 
granted that all men proceed to conceal a letter, not 
exactly in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg, but, at least, 
in some out-of-the-way hole or corner suggested by the 
same tenor of thought which would urge a man to secrete 
a letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg ? And do 
you not see also, that such reciter Che's nooks for conceal- 
ment are adapted only for ordinary occasions, and would 
be adopted only by ordinary intellects ; for, in all cases 
of concealment, a disposal of the article concealed — a dis- 
posal of it in this recherche' manner, — is, in the very first 



406 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

instance, presumable and presumed ; and thus its dis- 
covery depends, not at all upon the acumen, but alto- 
gether upon the mere care, patience, and determination of 
the seekers ; and where the case is of importance — or, 
what amounts to the same thing in the political eyes, 
when the reward is of magnitude, — the qualities in ques- 
tion have never been known to fail. You will now under- 
stand what I meant in suggesting that, had the purloined 
letter been hidden anywhere within the limits of the Pre- 
fect's examination — in other words, had the principle of 
its concealment been comprehended within the principles 
of the Prefect — its discovery would have been a matter 
altogether beyond question. This functionary, however, 
has been thoroughly mystified ; and the remote source of 
his defeat lies in the supposition that the Minister is a 
fool, because he has acquired renown as a poet. All fools 
are poets ; this the Prefect feels ; and he is merely guilty 
of a non distributio medii in thence inferring that all poets 
are fools." 

"But is this really the poet?'! I asked. "There are 
two brothers, I know ; and both have attained reputation 
in letters. The minister I believe has written learnedly 
on the Differential Calculus. He is a mathematician, and 
no poet." 

" You are mistaken ; I know him well ; he is both. As 
poet and mathematician, he would reason well ; as mere 
mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all, and 
thus would have been at the mercy of the Prefect." 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 407 

"You surprise me," I said, "by these opinions, which 
have been contradicted by the voice of the world. You 
do not mean to set at naught the well-digested idea of 
centuries. The mathematical reason has long been re- 
garded as the reason par excellence" 

' \ II y a hparier; " replied Dupin, quoting from Cham- 
fort, " ' que toute ide'e publique, toute convention rccue, est 
tine sottise, car elle a convenue au plus grand nombre.' The 
mathematicians, I grant you, have done their best to 
promulgate the popular error to which you allude, and 
which is none the less an error for its promulgation 
as truth. With an art worthy a better cause, for ex- 
ample, they have insinuated the term ' analysis ' into ap- 
plication to algebra. The French are the originators of 
this particular deception ; but if a term is of any impor- 
tance — if words derive any value from applicability — then 
' analysis ' conveys ' algebra ' about as much as, in Latin, 
1 ambitus' implies 'ambition,' ' religio' * religion,' or 
' homines honestV a set of honorable men." 

" You have a quarrel on hand, I see," said I, " with 
some of the algebraists of Paris ; but proceed." 

" I dispute the availability, and thus the value, of that 
reason which is cultivated in any especial form other than 
the abstractly logical. I dispute, in particular, the reason 
educed by mathematical study. The mathematics are 
the science of form and quantity ; mathematical reason- 
ing is merely logic applied to observation upon form and 
quantity. The great error lies in supposing that even the 



408 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

truths of what is called pure algebra are abstract or gen- 
eral truths. And this error is so egregious that I am con- 
founded at the universality with which it has been re- 
ceived. Mathematical axioms are not axioms of general 
truth. What is true of relation — of form and quantity — is 
often grossly false in regard to morals, for example. In 
this latter science it is very usually &;ztrue that the aggre- 
gated parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry also 
the axiom fails. In the consideration of motive it fails ; 
for two motives, each of a given value, have not, neces- 
sarily, a value when united, equal to the sum of their 
values apart. There are numerous other mathematical 
truths which are only truths within the limits of relation. 
But the mathematician argues from his finite truths, 
through habit, as if they were of an absolutely general ap- 
plicability — as the world indeed imagines them to be. 
Bryant, in his very learned ' Mythology,' mentions an 
analogous source of error, when he says that ' although 
the pagan fables are not believed, yet we forget ourselves 
continually, and make inferences from them as existing 
realities.' With the algebraists, however, who are pagans 
themselves, the ' pagan fables ' are believed, and the in- 
ferences are made, not so much through lapse of memory 
as through an unaccountable addling of the brains. In 
short, I never yet encountered the mere mathematician 
who could be trusted out of equal roots, or one who did 
not clandestinely hold it as a point of his faith that 
x* -\- px was absolutely and unconditionally equal to q. 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 409 

Say to one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if 
you please, that you believe occasions may occur where 
x 2 -\-px is not altogether equal to q, and, having made him 
understand what you mean, get out of his reach as speed- 
ily as convenient, for, beyond doubt, he will endeavor to 
knock you down. 

" I mean to say," continued Dupin, while I merely 
laughed at his last observations, " that if the minister had 
been no more than a mathematician, the Prefect would 
have been under no necessity of giving me this check. I 
knew him, however, as both mathematician and poet, and 
my measures were adapted to his capacity, with reference 
to the circumstances by which he was surrounded. I knew 
him as a courtier, too, and as a bold intriguant. Such 
a man, I considered, could not fail to be aware of the or- 
dinary policial modes of action. He could not have 
failed to anticipate — and events have proved that he did 
not fail to anticipate — the waylayings to which he was 
subjected. He must have foreseen, I reflected, the secret 
investigations of his premises. His frequent absences from 
home at night, which were hailed by the Prefect as cer- 
tain aids to his success, I regarded only as ruses, to afford 
opportunity for thorough search to the police, and thus 
the sooner to impress them with the conviction to which 

G , in fact, did finally arrive — the conviction that the 

letter was not upon the premises. I felt, also, that the 
whole train of thought, which I was at some pains in de- 
tailing to you just now, concerning the invariable princi- 



4 j O THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

pie of policial action in searches for articles concealed — 
I felt that this whole train of thought would necessarily- 
pass through the mind of the minister. It would impera- 
tively lead him to despise all the ordinary nooks of con- 
cealment. He could not, I reflected, be so weak as not 
to see that the most intricate and remote recess of his 
hotel would be as open as his commonest closets to the 
eyes, to the probes, to the gimlets, and to the microscopes 
of the Prefect. I saw, in fine, that he would be driven, 
as a matter of course, to simplicity, if not deliberately in- 
duced to it as a matter of choice. You will remember, 
perhaps, how desperately the Prefect laughed when I sug- 
gested, upon our first interview, that it was just possible 
this mystery troubled him so much on account of its be- 
ing so very self-evident." 

" Yes," said I, " I remember his merriment well. I 
really thought he would have fallen into convulsions." 

" The material world," continued Dupin, " abounds 
with very strict analogies to the immaterial ; and thus 
some color of truth has been given to the rhetorical dogma, 
that metaphor, or simile, may be made to strengthen an 
argument as well as to embellish a description. The prin- 
ciple of the vis inertice, for example, seems to be identical 
in physics and metaphysics. It is not more true in the 
former, that a large body is with more difficulty set in 
motion than a smaller one, and that its subsequent mo- 
mentum is commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in 
the latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 411 

more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their 
movements than those of inferior grade, are yet the less 
readily moved, and more embarrassed, and full of hesita- 
tion in the first few steps of their progress. Again : have 
you ever noticed which of the street signs, over the shop 
doors, are the most attractive of attention ? " 

" I have never given the matter a thought," I said. 

" There is a game of puzzles," he resumed, " which is 
played upon a map. One party playing requires another 
to find a given word — the name of town, river, state, or 
empire — any word, in short, upon the motley and per- 
plexed surface of the chart. A novice in the game gener- 
ally seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them the 
most minutely lettered names ; but the adept selects such 
words as stretch, in large characters, from one end of the 
chart to the other. These, like the over-largely lettered 
signs and placards of the street, escape observation by 
dint of being excessively obvious ; and here the physical 
oversight is precisely analogous with the moral inappre- 
hension by which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed 
those considerations which are too obtrusively and too 
palpably self-evident. But this is a point, it appears, 
somewhat above or beneath the understanding of the 
Prefect. He never once thought it probable, or possible, 
that the minister had deposited the letter immediately 
beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best pre- 
venting any portion of that world from perceiving it. 

" But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, and 



412 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

discriminating ingenuity of D ; upon the fact that 

the document must always have been at hand, if he in- 
tended to use it to good purpose ; and upon the decisive 
evidence, obtained by the Prefect, that it was not hidden 
within the limits of that dignitary's ordinary search — the 
more satisfied I became that, to conceal this letter, the 
minister had resorted to the comprehensive and sagacious 
expedient of not attempting to conceal it at all. 

" Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of 
green spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite by 

accident, at the Ministerial hotel. I found D at 

home, yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual, and 
pretending to be in the last extremity of ennui. He is, 
perhaps, the most really energetic human being now alive 
— but that is only when nobody sees him. 

" To be even with him, I complained of my weak eyes, 
and lamented the necessity of the spectacles, under cover 
of which I cautiously and thoroughly surveyed the whole 
apartment, while seemingly intent only upon the conver- 
sation of my host. 

" I paid especial attention to a large writing-table near 
which he sat, and upon which lay confusedly, some mis- 
cellaneous letters and other papers, with one or two 
musical instruments and a few books. Here, however 
after a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I saw nothing to 
excite particular suspicion. 

" At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, 
fell upon a trumpery filigree card-rack of pasteboard, 



THE PURLOINED LETTER. 413 

that hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon, from a little 
brass knob just beneath the middle of the mantel-piece. 
In this rack, which had three or four compartments, were 
five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter. This last 
was much soiled and crumpled. It was torn nearly in 
two, across the middle— as if a design, in the first instance, 
to tear it entirely up as worthless, had been altered, or 
stayed, in the second. It had a large black seal, bearing 

the D cipher very conspicuously, and was addressed, 

in a diminutive female hand, to D , the minister, him- 
self. It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, 
contemptuously, into one of the uppermost divisions of 
the rack. 

" No sooner had I glanced at this letter than I con- 
cluded it to be that of which I was in search. To be sure, 
it was, to all appearance, radically different from the one 
of which the Prefect had read us so minute a description. 

Here the seal was large and black, with the D cipher; 

there it was small and red, with the ducal arms of the 

S family. Here, the address, to the minister, was 

diminutive and feminine ; there the superscription, to a 
certain royal personage, was markedly bold and decided ; 
the size alone formed a point of correspondence. But, 
then, the radicalness of these differences, which was ex- 
cessive ; the dirt ; the soiled and torn condition of the 
paper, so inconsistent with the true methodical habits of 
D , and so suggestive of a design to delude the be- 
holder into an idea of the worthlessness of the document ; 



4H THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

— these things, together with the hyperobtrusive situation 
of this document, full in the view of every visitor, and 
thus exactly in accordance with the conclusions to which 
I had previously arrived ; these things, I say, were strongly 
corroborative of suspicion, in one who came with the in- 
tention to suspect. 

" I protracted my visit as long as possible, and, while I 
maintained a most animated, discussion with the minister, 
upon a topic which I knew well had never failed to 
interest and excite him, I kept my attention really riveted 
upon the letter. In this examination, I committed to 
memory its external appearance and arrangement in the 
rack ; and also fell, at length, upon a discovery which set 
at rest whatever trivial doubt I might have entertained. 
In scrutinizing the edges of the paper, I observed them to 
be more chafed than seemed necessary. They presented 
the broken appearance which is manifested when a stiff 
paper, having been once folded and pressed with a folder, 
is refolded in a reversed direction, in the same creases 
or edges which had formed the original fold. This dis- 
covery was sufficient. It was clear to me that the letter 
had been turned, as a glove, inside out, re-directed and re- 
sealed. I bade the minister good-morning, and took 
my departure at once, leaving a gold snuff-box upon the 
table. 

" The next morning I called for the snuff-box, when we 
resumed, quite eagerly, the conversation of the preceding 
day. While thus engaged, however, a loud report, as if of 






THE PURLOINED LETTER. 415 

a pistol, was heard immediately beneath the windows of 
the hotel, and was succeeded by a series of fearful screams, 

and the shoutings of a terrified mob. D rushed to a 

casement, threw it open, and looked out. In the mean- 
time I stepped to the card-rack, took the letter, put it 
in my pocket, and replaced it by a facsimile, (so far as re- 
gards externals) which I had carefully prepared at my 

lodgings — imitating the D cipher, very readily, by 

means of a seal formed of bread. 

" The disturbance in the street had been occasioned by 

the frantic behavior of a man with a musket. He had 

[red it among a crowd of women and children. It proved, 

lowever, to have been without ball, and the fellow was 

suffered to go his way as a lunatic or a drunkard. When 

he had gone, D came from the window, whither I 

had followed him immediately upon securing the object in 
view. Soon afterward I bade him farewell. The pre- 
tended lunatic was a man in my own pay." 

" But what purpose had you," I asked, " in replacing 
the letter by a facsimile? Would it not have been better, 
at the first visit, to have seized it openly, and departed ? " 

" D ," replied Dupin, " is a desperate man, and 

a man of nerve. His hotel, too, is not without attendants 
devoted to his interests. Had I made the wild attempt 
you suggest, I might never have left the Ministerial 
presence alive. The good people of Paris might have 
heard of me no more. But I had an object apart from 
these considerations. You know my political preposses- 
sions. In this matter, I act as a partisan of the lady con- 



41 6 THE PURLOINED LETTER. 

cerned. For eighteen months the minister has had her in 
his power. She has now him in hers — since, being un- 
aware that the letter is not in his possession, he will pro- 
ceed with his exactions as if it was. Thus will he inevitably 
commit himself, at once, to his political destruction. His 
downfall, too, will not be more precipitate than awkward. 
It is all very well to talk about the facilis descensus 
Averni ; but in all kinds of climbing, as Catalani said of 
singing, it is far more easy to get up than to come down. 
In the present instance I have no sympathy — at least 
no pity — for him who descends. He is that monstrum 
horrendum, an unprincipled man of genius. I confess, 
however, that I should like very well to know the precise 
character of his thoughts, when, being defied by her whom 
the Prefect terms i a certain personage,' he is reduced to 
opening the letter which I left for him in the card rack." 
" How? did you put any thing particular in it? " 
" Why — it did not seem altogether right to leave the in- 
terior blank — that would have been insulting. D , 

at Vienna once, did me an evil turn, which I told him, 
quite good-humoredly, that I should remember. So, as I 
knew he would feel some curiosity in regard to the iden- 
tity of the person who had outwitted him, I thought it a 
pity not to give him a clew. He is well acquainted with 
my MS., and I just copied into the middle of the blank 
sheet the words — 

" ' Un dessein si funeste, 

S' il n' est digne d' Atree, est digne de Thyeste.' 

They are to be found in Crebillon's ' Atr6e.' M 






THE BLACK CAT. 



FOR the most wild yet most homely narrative which 
I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit be- 
lief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where 
my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am 
I not — and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow 
I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My imme- 
diate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, suc- 
cinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household 
events. In their consequences, these events have terri- 
fied — have tortured — have destroyed me. Yet I will not 
attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented 
little but horror — to many they will seem less terrible 
than bar rogues. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may 
be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common- 
place — some intellect more calm, more logical, and far 
less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the 
circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an 
ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects. 

From my infancy I was noted for the docility and hu- 
manity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was 

417 



41 8 THE BLACK CAT. 

even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my com- 
panions. I was especially fond of animals, and was in- 
dulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With 
these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy 
as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of 
character grew with my growth, and, in my manhood, I 
derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. 
To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful 
and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of ex- 
plaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification 
thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and 
self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the 
heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the 
paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man. 

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a 
disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my 
partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of 
procuring those of the most ■ agreeable kind. We had 
birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a 
cat. 

This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, 
entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. 
In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was 
not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent 
allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all 
black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever 
serious upon this point — and I mention the matter at all 
for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be 
remembered. 



THE BLACK CAT. 4 ! 9 

Pluto— this was the cat's name— was my favorite pet 
and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me 
wherever I went about the house. It was even with dim- 
culty that I could prevent him from following me through 
the streets. 

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, 
during which my general temperament and character- 
through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance 

had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration 
for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more 
irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I 
suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. 
At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, 
of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. 
I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, how- 
ever, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from 
maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the 
rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when, by accident, 
or through affection, they came in my way. But my dis- 
ease grew upon me — for what disease is like Alcohol ! — 
and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and 
consequently somewhat peevish — even Pluto began to ex- 
perience the effects of my ill temper. 

One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one 
of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my 
presence. I seized him ; when, in his fright at my vio- 
lence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his 
teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I 



420 THE BLACK CAT. 

knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at 
once, to take its flight from my body ; and a more than 
fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fiber of 
my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a penknife, 
opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and de- 
liberately cut one of its eyes from the socket ! I blush, 
I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity. 

When reason returned with the morning — when I had 
slept off the fumes of the night's debauch — I experienced 
a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime 
of which I had been guilty ; but it was, at best, a feeble 
and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. 
I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all 
memory of the deed. 

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket 
of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appear- 
ance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He 
went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, 
fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of 
my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident 
dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved 
me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And 
then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, 
the spirit of PERVERSENESS.- Of this spirit philosophy 
takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul 
lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive 
impulses of the human heart — one of the indivisible pri- 
mary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the 



THE BLACK CAT. 42 1 

character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found 
himself committing a vile or a stupid action, for no other 
reason than because he knows he should not f Have we 
not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judg- 
ment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we 
understand it to be such ? This spirit of perverseness, I 
say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathom- 
able longing of the soul to vex itself— to offer violence to 
its own nature — to do wrong for the wrong's sake only 
— that urged me to continue and finally to consummate 
the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. 
One morning, in cold blood, I slipped a noose about its 
neck and hung it to the limb of a tree ; — hung it with the 
tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest re- 
morse at my heart ; — hung it because I knew that it had 
loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of 
offence ; — hung it because I knew that in so doing I was 
committing a sin — a deadly sin that would so jeopardize 
my immortal soul as to place it — if such a thing were pos- 
sible — even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the 
Most Merciful and Most Terrible God. 

On the night of the day on which this most cruel deed 
I was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. 
The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house 
was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a 
servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagra- 
tion. The destruction was complete. My entire worldly 
wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thence- 
forward to despair. 



422 THE BLACK CAT. 

I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a se- 
quence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the 
atrocity But I am detailing a chain of facts — and wish 
not to leave even a possible link imperfect. On the day 
succeding the fire, I visited the ruins. The walls, with 
one exception, had fallen in. This exception was found 
in a compartment wall, not very thick, which stood about 
the middle of the house, and against which had rested the 
head of my bed. The plastering had here, in great meas- 
ure, resisted the action of the fire — a fact which I attrib- 
uted to its having been recently spread. About this wall 
a dense crowd were collected, and many persons seemed 
to be examining a particular portion of it with very mi- 
nute and eager attention. The words " strange ! " " sin- 
gular ! " and other similar expressions, excited my curi- 
osity. I approached and saw, as if graven in bas-relief 
upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat. The 
impression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous. 
There was a rope about the animal's neck. 

When I first beheld this apparition — for I could scarcely 
regard it as less — my wonder and my terror were extreme. 
But at length reflection came to my aid. The cat, I re- 
membered, had been hung in a garden adjacent to the 
house. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been im- 
mediately filled by the crowd — by some one of whom the 
animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, 
through an open window, into my chamber. This had 
probably been done with the view of arousing me from 



THE BLACK CAT. 423 

sleep. The falling of other walls had compressed the vic- 
tim of my cruelty into the substance of the freshly-spread 
plaster ; the lime of which, with the flames, and the am- 
monia from the carcass, had then accomplished the por- 
traiture as I saw it. 

Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not 
altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact just 
detailed, it did not the less fail to make a deep impression 
upon my fancy. For months I could not rid myself of 
the phantasm of the cat ; and, during this period, there 
came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, 
but was not, remorse. I went so far as to regret the loss 
of the animal, and to look about me, among the vile 
haunts which I now habitually frequented,, for another 
pet of the same species, and of somewhat similar appear- 
ance, with which to supply its place. 

One night as I sat, half stupefied, in a den of more than 
infamy, my attention was suddenly drawn to some black 
object, reposing upon the head of one of the immense 
hogsheads of gin, or of rum, which constituted the chief 
furniture of the apartment. I had been looking steadily 
at the top of this hogshead for some minutes, and what 
now caused me surprise was the fact that I had not sooner 
perceived the object thereupon. I approached it, and 
touched it with my hand. It was a black cat — a very 
large one — fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling 
him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white 
hair upon any portion of his body ; but this cat had a 



424 THE BLACK CAT. 

large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly 
the whole region of the breast. 

Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred 
loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted 
with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of 
which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it 
of the landlord ; but this person made no claim to it — 
knew nothing of it — had never seen it before. 

I continued my caresses, and when I prepared to go 
home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. 
I permitted it to do so ; occasionally stooping and patting 
it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domes- 
ticated itself at once, and became immediately a great 
favorite with my wife. 

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising 
within me. This was just the reverse of what I had antici- 
pated ; but — I know not how or why it was — its evident 
fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed me. By 
slow degrees these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose 
into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature ; a 
certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former 
deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. 
I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill 
use it ; but gradually — very gradually — I came to look 
upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently 
from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence. 

What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was 
the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, 



THE BLACK CAT. 425 

that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its 
eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to 
my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high 
degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my 
distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest 
and purest pleasures. 

With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for 
myself seemed to increase. It followed my footsteps with 
a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the 
reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch 
beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me 
with its loathsome caresses. If I arose to walk it would 
get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, 
fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in 
this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I 
longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from 
so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but 
chiefly — let me confess it at once — by absolute dread of 
the beast. 

This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil — 
and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. 
I am almost ashamed to own — yes, even in this felon's 
cell, I am almost ashamed to own— that the terror and 
horror with which the animal inspired me, had been 
heightened by one of the merest chimeras it would be 
possible to conceive. My wife had called my attention, 
more than once, to the character of the mark of white 
hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the 



426 THE BLACK CAT. 

sole visible difference between the strange beast and the 
one I had destroyed. The reader will remember that this 
mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite ; 
but, by slow degrees — degrees nearly imperceptible, and 
which for a long time my reason struggled to reject as 
fanciful — it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness 
of outline. It was now the representation of an object 
that I shudder to name — and for this, above all, I loathed, 
and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster 
had I dared — it was now, I say, the image of a hideous — 
of a ghastly thing — of the GALLOWS ! — oh, mournful and 
terrible engine of Horror and of Crime — of Agony and of 
Death ! 

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretched- 
ness of mere Humanity. And# brute beast — whose fellow 
I had contemptuously destroyed — a brute beast to work 
out for me — for me, a man fashioned in the image of the 
High God — so much of insufferable woe ! Alas ! neither 
by day nor by night knew I the blessing of rest any more ! 
During the former the creature left me no moment alone, 
and in the latter I started hourly from dreams of unutter- 
able fear to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, 
and its vast weight — an incarnate nightmare that I had 
no power to shake off — incumbent eternally upon my 
heart I 

Beneath the pressure of torments such as these the 
feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil 
thoughts became my sole intimates — the darkest and 



THE BLACK CAT. 427 

most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual 
temper increased to hatred of all things and of all man- 
kind ; while from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable 
outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned 
myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas, was the most usual 
and the most patient of sufferers. 

One day she accompanied me, upon some household 
errand, into the cellar of the old building which our pov- 
erty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down 
the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exas- 
perated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting 
in my wrath the childish dread which had hitherto stayed 
my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal, which, of course, 
would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I 
wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my 
wife. Goaded by the interference into a rage more than 
demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and bur- 
ied the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot 
without a groan. 

This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forth- 
with, and with entire deliberation, to the task of conceal- 
ing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from 
the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of 
being observed by the neighbors. Many projects entered 
my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse 
into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. At 
another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the 
cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well 



428 THE BLACK CAT. 

in the yard — about packing it in a box, as if merchandi< 
with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter t< 
take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I con- 
sidered a far better expedient than either of these. I 
determined to wall it up in the cellar, as the monks of 
the Middle Ages are recorded to have walled up their 
victims. 

For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. 
Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been 
plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the 
dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hard- 
ening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, 
caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been 
filled up and made to resemble the rest of the cellar. I 
made no doubt that I could readily displace the bricks at 
this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as 
before, so that no eye could detect any thing suspicious. 

And in this calculation I was not deceived. By means 
of a crowbar I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having 
carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I 
propped it in that position, while with little trouble I 
relaid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having 
procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible pre- 
caution, I prepared a plaster which could not be distin- 
guished from the old, and with this I very carefully went 
over the new brick-work. When I had finished, I felt 
satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the 
slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rub- 



THE BLACK CAT 429 

bish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. 
I looked around triumphantly, and said to myself: "Here 
at least, then, my labor has not been in vain." 

My next step was to look for the beast which had been 
the cause of so much wretchedness ; for I had, at length, 
firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to 
meet with it at the moment, there could have been no 
doubt of its fate ; but it appeared that the crafty animal 
had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, 
and forebore to present itself in my present mood. It is 
impossible to describe or to imagine the deep, the blissful 
sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature 
occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance 
during the night ; and thus for one ni^ht, at least, since 
its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly 
slept ; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my 
soul. 

The second and the third day passed, and still my tor- 
mentor came not. Once again I breathed as a freeman. 
The monster, in terror, had fled the premises for ever ! 
I should behold it no more ! My happiness was supreme ! 
The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some 
few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily 
answered. Even a search had been instituted — but of 
course nothing was to be discovered. I looked upon my 
future felicity as secured. * 

Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of 
the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and 



43° THE BLACK CAT. 

proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the 
premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my 
place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. 
The officers bade me accompany them in their search. 
They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for 
the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I 
quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that 
of one who slumbers in innocence. I walked the cellar 
from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and 
roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly 
satisfied and prepared to depart. The glee at my heart 
was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one 
word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their 
assurance of my guiltlessness. 

" Gentlemen," I said at last, as the party ascended the 
steps, " I delight to have allayed your suspicions. I wish 
you all health and a little more courtesy. By the bye, 
gentlemen, this — this is a very well-constructed house," 
(in the rabid desire to say something easily, I scarcely 
knew what I uttered at all), — " I may say an excellently 
well-constructed house. These walls — are you going, 
gentlemen ?— these walls are solidly put together " ; and 
here, through the mere frenzy of bravado, I rapped 
heavily with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that 
very portion of the brickwork behind which stood the 
corpse of the wife of my bosom. 

But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of 
the Arch-Fiend ! No sooner had the reverberation of my 



THE BLACK CAT. 43! 

blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice 
from within the tomb !— by a cry, at first muffled and 
broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly 
swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, 
utterly anomalous and inhuman — a howl — a wailing 
shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might 
have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats 
of the damned in their agony and of the demons that ex- 
ult in the damnation. 

Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I 
staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the 
party on the stairs remained motionless, through extremity 
of terror and awe. In the next a dozen stout arms were 
toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already 
greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect 
before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with 
red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the 
hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, 
and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hang- 
man, I had walled the monster up within the tomb. 



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THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 



Son cceur est un luth suspendu ; 
Sitot qu' on le louche il resonne. 



-De Bdranger. 



DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless 
day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds 
hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing 
alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of 
country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the 
evening 'drew on, within view of the melancholy House of 
Usher. I know not how it was — but, with the first 
glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom per- 
vaded my spirit. I say insufferable ; for the feeling was 
unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, 
sentiment with which the mind usually receives even the 
sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I 
looked upon the scene before me — upon the mere house, 
and the simple landscape features of the domain — upon 
the bleak walls — upon the vacant eye-like windows — upon 
a few rank sedges — and upon a few white trunks of de- 
cayed trees — with an utter depression of soul which I can 
compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to 

432. 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 433 

the after-dream of the reveller upon opium— the bitter 
lapse into every-day life— the hideous dropping off of the 
veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the 
heart — an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no 
goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the 
sublime. What was it— I paused to think— what was it 
that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House 
of Usher ? It was a mystery all insoluble ; nor could I 
grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me 
as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsat- 
isfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are 
combinations of very simple natural objects which have 
the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this 
power lies among considerations beyond our depth. It 
was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement 
of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, 
would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its 
capacity for sorrowful impression ; and, acting upon this 
idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black 
and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, 
and gazed down — but with a shudder even more thrilling 
than before — upon the remodelled and inverted images of 
the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant 
and eye-like windows. 

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed 
to myself a sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Rod- 
erick Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boy- 
hood ; but many years had elapsed since our last meeting. 



434 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part 
of the country — a letter from him — which, in its wildly 
importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a 
personal reply. The MS. gave evidence of nervous agita- 
tion. The writer spoke of acute bodily illness — of a 
mental disorder which oppressed him — and of an earnest 
desire to see me, as his best and indeed his only personal 
friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of 
my society, some alleviation of his malady. It was the 
manner in which all this, and much more, was said — it 
was the apparent heart that went with his request — which 
allowed me no room for hesitation ; and I accordingly 
obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular 
summons. 

Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associ- 
ates, yet I really knew little of my friend. His reserve 
had been always excessive and habitual. I was aware, 
however, that his very ancient family had been noted, 
time out of mind, for a peculiar sensibility of tempera- 
ment, displaying itself, through long ages, in many works 
of exalted art, and manifested, of late, in repeated deeds 
of munificent yet unobtrusive charity, as well as in a pas- 
sionate devotion to the intricacies, perhaps even more 
than to the orthodox and easily recognizable beauties, of 
musical science. I had learned, too, the very remarkable 
fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as 
it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch ; 
in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, 435 

line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and 
very temporary variation, so lain. It was this deficiency, 
I considered, while running over in thought the perfect 
keeping of the character of the premises with the accred- 
ited character of the people, and while speculating upon 
the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of 
centuries, might have exercised upon the other — it was 
this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the conse- 
quent undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the 
patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identi- 
fied the two as to merge the original title of the estate in 
the quaint and equivocal apellation of the " House of 
Usher " — an appellation which seemed to include, in the 
minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and 
the family mansion. 

I have said that the sole effect of my somewhat childish 
experiment — that of looking down within the tarn — had 
been to deepen the first singular impression. There can 
be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase 
of my superstition — for why should I not so term it ? — 
served mainly to accelerate the increase itself. Such, 
I have long known, is the paradoxical law of all senti- 
ments having terror as a basis. And it might have been 
for this reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes 
to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew 
in my mind a strange fancy— a fancy so ridiculous, in- 
deed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of 
the sensations which oppressed me. I had so worked 



43 6 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

uport my imagination as really to believe that about 
the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere 
peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity — an 
atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, 
but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the 
gray wall, and the silent tarn — a pestilent and mystic 
vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden- 
hued. 

Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a 
dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the 
building. Its principal feature seemed to be that of an 
excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been 
great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hang- 
ing in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet all 
this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. No 
portion of the masonry had fallen ; and there appeared to 
be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation 
of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual 
stones. In this there was much that reminded me of the 
specious totality of old wood-work which has rotted 
for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturb- 
ance from the breath of the external air. Beyond this 
indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave 
little token of instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutiniz- 
ing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible 
fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in 
front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, 
until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn. 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 437 

Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway 
to the house. A servant in waiting took my horse, and I 
entered the Gothic archway of the hall. A valet, of 
stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through 
many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the 
studio of his master. Much that I encountered on the 
way contributed, I know not how, to heighten the vague 
sentiments of which I have already spoken. While the 
objects around me— while the carvings of the ceilings, the 
sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of 
the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which 
rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such 
as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy — while 
I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this — 
I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies 
which ordinary images were stirring up. On one of 
the staircases, I met the physician of the family. His 
countenance, I thought, wore a mingled expression of low 
cunning and perplexity. He accosted me with trepida- 
tion and passed on. The valet now threw open a door 
and ushered me into the presence of his master. 

The room in which I found myself was very large 
and lofty. The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, 
and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to 
be altogether inaccessible from within. Feeble gleams of 
encrimsoned light made their way through the trellissed 
panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more 
prominent objects around ; the eye, however, struggled in 



43§ THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

vain to reach the remoter angles of the chamber, or the 
recesses of the vaulted and fretted ceiling. Dark draperies 
hung upon the walls. The general furniture was profuse, 
comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books and 
musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to 
give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I breathed an 
atmosphere of sorrow. An air of stern, deep, and irre- 
deemable gloom hung over and pervaded all. 

Upon my entrance, Usher arose from a sofa on which 
he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a 
vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, 
of an overdone cordiality — of the constrained effort of the 
enmiyt man of the world. A glance, however, at his coun- 
tenance convinced me of his perfect sincerity. We sat 
down ; and for some moments, while he spoke not, I gazed 
upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, 
man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a 
period, as had Roderick Usher ! It was with difficulty 
that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the wan 
being before me with the companion of my early boyhood. 
Yet the character of his face had been at all times re- 
markable. A cadaverousness of complexion ; an eye large, 
liquid, and luminous beyond comparison ; lips somewhat 
thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve ; 
a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of 
nostril unusual in similar formations ; a finely moulded 
chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of 
moral energy ; hair of a more than web-like softness 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 439 

and tenuity ;— these features, with an inordinate expansion 
above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a 
countenance not easily to be forgotten. And now in the 
mere exaggeration of the prevailing character of these 
features, and of the expression they were wont to convey, 
lay so much of change that I doubted to whom I spoke. 
The now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miracu- 
lous lustre of the eye, above all things startled and even 
awed me. The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow 
all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated 
rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with 
effort, connect its Arabesque expression with any idea of 
simple humanity. 

In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with 
an incoherence — an inconsistency ; and I soon found this 
to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to over- 
come an habitual trepidancy — an excessive nervous agita- 
tion. For something of this nature I had indeed been 
prepared, no less by his letter, than by reminiscences of 
certain boyish traits, and by conclusions deduced from 
his peculiar physical confirmation and temperament. 
His action was alternately vivacious and sullen. His 
voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision (when 
the animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance) to that 
species of energetic concision— that abrupt, weighty, un- 
hurried, and hollow-sounding enunciation— that leaden, 
self-balanced, and perfectly modulated guttural utterance, 
which may be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irre- 



440 THE FALL OF TILE HOUSE OF USHER. 

claimable eater of opium, during the periods of his most 
intense excitement. 

It was thus that he spoke of the object of my visit, of 
his earnest desire to see me, and of the solace he expected 
me to afford him. He entered, at some length, into what 
he conceived to be the nature of his malady. It was, he 
said, a constitutional and a family evil, and one for which 
he despaired to find a remedy — a mere nervous affection, 
he immediately added, which would undoubtedly soon 
pass off. It displayed itself in a host of unnatural sensa- 
tions. Some of these, as he detailed them, interested and 
bewildered me ; although, perhaps, the terms and the 
general manner of their narration had their weight. He 
suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses ; the 
most insipid food was alone endurable ; he could wear only 
garments of certain texture ; the odors of all flowers were 
oppressive ; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light ; 
and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from 
stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with 
horror. 

To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden 
slave. " I shall perish," said he, " I must perish in this 
deplorable folly. Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I 
be lost. I dread the events of the future, not in them- 
selves, but in their results. I shudder at the thought of 
any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate 
upon this intolerable agitation of soul. I have, indeed, 
no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect — in 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 441 

terror. In this unnerved, in this pitiable, condition I 
feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must 
abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with 
the grim phantasm, Fear." 

I learned, moreover, at intervals, and through broken 
and equivocal hints, another singular feature of his mental 
condition. He was enchained by certain superstitious 
impressions in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted, 
and whence, for many years, he had never ventured forth 
— in regard to an influence whose supposititious force was 
conveyed in terms too shadowy here to be re-stated— an 
influence which some peculiarities in the mere form and 
substance of his family mansion had, by dint of long suf- 
ferance, he said, obtained over his spirit — an effect which 
the physique of the gray walls and turrets, and of the dim 
tarn into which they all looked down, had, at length, 
brought about upon the morale of his existence. 

He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that 
much of the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him 
could be traced to a more natural and far more palpa- 
ble " origin — to the severe and long-continued illness — 
indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution — of a ten- 
derly beloved sister, his sole companion for long years, 
his last and only relative on earth. " Her decease," he 
said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, " would 
leave him (him, the hopeless and the frail) the last of the 
ancient race of the Ushers." While he spoke, the lady 
Madeline (for so was she called) passed through a remote 



44 2 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

portion of the apartment, and, without having- noticed my 
presence, disappeared. I regarded her with an utter 
astonishment not unmingled with dread ; and yet I found 
it impossible to account for such feelings. A sensation of 
stupor oppressed me as my eyes followed her retreating 
steps. When a door, at length, closed upon her, my 
glance sought instinctively and eagerly the countenance of 
the brother; but he had buried his face in his hands, and I 
could only perceive that a far more than ordinary wanness 
had overspread the emaciated fingers through which 
trickled many passionate tears. 

The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the 
skill of her physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting 
away of the person, and frequent although transient affec- 
tions of a partially cataleptical character were the unusual 
diagnosis. Hitherto she had steadily borne up against 
the pressure of her malady, and had not betaken herself 
finally to bed ; but on the closing in of the evening of my 
arrival at the house, she succumbed (as her brother told 
me at night with inexpressible agitation) to the prostrating 
power of the destroyer ; and I learned that the glimpse 
I had obtained of her person would thus probably be the 
last I should obtain — that the lady, at least while living, 
would be seen by me no more. 

For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned 
by either Usher or myself ; and during this period I was 
busied in earnest endeavors to alleviate the melancholy of 
my friend. We painted and read together, or I listened, 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 443 

as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking 
guitar. And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy 
admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his 
spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all 
attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an 
inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of 
the moral and physical universe in one unceasing radia- 
tion of gloom. 

I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many sol- 
emn hours I thus spent alone with the master of the 
House of Usher. Yet I should fail in any attempt to 
convey an idea of the exact character of the studies, or of 
the occupations, in which he involved me, or led me the 
way. An excited and highly distempered ideality threw a 
sulphureous lustre over all. His long improvised dirges 
will ring forever in my ears. Among other things, I hold 
painfully in mind a certain singular perversion and am- 
plification of the wild air of the last waltz of Von Weber. 
From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy 
brooded, and which grew, touch by touch, into vague- 
nesses at which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I 
shuddered knowing not why— from these paintings (vivid 
as their images now are before me) I would in vain en- 
deavor to educe more than a small portion which should 
lie within the compass of merely written words. By the 
utter simplicity, by the nakedness, of his designs, he 
arrested and overawed attention. If ever mortal painted 
an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher. For me at 



444 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

least, in the circumstances then surrounding me, there 
arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochon- 
driac contrived to throw upon his canvas, an intensity of 
intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the 
contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too concrete 
reveries of Fuseli. 

One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, 
partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may 
be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small 
picture presented the interior of an immensely long and 
rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, 
and without interruption or device. Certain accessory 
points of the design served well to convey the idea that 
this excavation lay at an exceeding depth below the sur- 
face of the earth. No outlet was observed in any portion 
of its vast extent, and no torch or other artificial source 
of light was discernible ; yet a flood of intense rays rolled 
throughout, and bathed the whole in a ghastly and inap- 
propriate splendor. 

I have just spoken of that morbid condition of the audi- 
tory nerve which rendered all music intolerable to the 
sufferer, with the exception of certain effects of stringed 
instruments. It was, perhaps, the narrow limits to which 
he thus confined himself upon the guitar which gave birth, 
in great measure, to the fantastic character of his perform- 
ances. But the fervid facility of his impromptus could 
not be so accounted for. They must have been, and were, 
in the notes, as well as in the words of his wild fantasias 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 445 

(for he not unfrequently accompanied himself with rhymed 
verbal improvisations), the result of that intense mental 
collectedness and concentration to which I have previ- 
ously alluded as observable only in particular moments of 
the highest artificial excitement. The words of one of 
these rhapsodies I have easily remembered. I was, per- 
haps, the more forcibly impressed with it as he gave it, 
because, in the under or mystic current of its meaning, I 
fancied that I perceived, and for the first time, a full con- 
sciousness on the part of Usher of the tottering of his 
lofty reason upon her throne. The verses, which were 
entitled " The Haunted Palace," ran very nearly, if not 
accurately, thus : — 



In the greenest of our valleys, 
By good angels tenanted, 

Once a fair and stately palace — 
Radiant palace — reared its head. 

In the monarch Thought's dominion- 
It stood there ! 

Never seraph spread a pinion 
Over fabric half so fair. 



II. 

Banners yellow, glorious, golden, 

On its roof did float and flow 
(This — all this — was in the olden 

Time long ago) ; 
And every gentle air that dallied, 

In that sweet day, 
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid, 

A winged odor went away. 



446 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

in. 
Wanderers in that happy valley 

Through two luminous windows saw 
Spirits moving musically 

To a lute's well-tuned law ; 
Round about a throne, where sitting 

(Porphyrogene !) 
In state his glory Well befitting, 

The ruler of the realm was seen. 

IV. 

And all with pearl and ruby glowing 

Was the fair palace door, 
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing 

And sparkling evermore, 
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty 

Was but to sing, 
In voices of surpassing beauty, 

The wit and wisdom of their king. 

v. 
But evil things, in robes of sorrow, 

Assailed the, monarch's high estate ; 
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow 

Shall dawn upon him, desolate !) 
And, round about his home, the glory 

That blushed and bloomed 
Is but a dim-remembered story 

Of the old time entombed. 

VI. 

And travellers now within that valley, 

Through the red-litten windows see 
Vast forms that move fantastically 

To a discordant melody ; 
While, like a rapid ghastly river, 

Through the pale door, 
A hideous throng rush out forever, 

And laugh — but smile no more. 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 447 

I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad 
led us into a train of thought wherein there became mani- 
fest an opinion of Usher's, which I mention not so much 
on account of its novelty (for other men* have thought 
thus), as on account of the pertinacity with which he 
maintained it. This opinion, in its general form, was that 
of the sentience of all vegetable things. But, in his dis- 
ordered fancy, the idea had assumed a more daring 
character, and trespassed, under certain conditions, upon 
the kingdom of inorganization. I lack words to express 
the full extent, or the earnest abandon of his persuasion. 
The belief, however, was connected (as I have previously 
hinted) with the gray stones of the home of his forefathers. 
The conditions of the sentence had been here, he imagined, 
fulfilled in the method of collocation of these stones — in 
the order of their arrangement, as well as in that of the 
many fungi which overspread the*m, and of the decayed 
trees which stood around — above all, in the long undis- 
turbed endurance of this arrangement, and in its reduplica- 
tion in the still waters of the tarn. Its evidence — the 
evidence of the sentience — was to be seen, he said (and I 
here started as he spoke), in the gradual yet certain con- 
densation of an atmosphere of their own about the waters 
and the walls. The result was discoverable, he added, in 
that silent yet importunate and terrible influence which 
for centuries had moulded the destinies of his family, and 

* Watson, Dr. Percival, Spallanzani, and especially the Bishop of Landaff. 
—See " Chemical Essays," vol. v. 



448 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

which made him what I now saw him — what he was. 
Such opinions need no comment, and I will make none. 

Our books — the books which, for years, ha'd formed no 
small portion of the mental existence of the invalid — 
were, as might be supposed, in strict keeping with this 
character of phantasm. We pored together over such 
works as the " "Ververt et Chartreuse " of Gresset ; the 
" Belphegor " of Machiavelli ; the " Heaven and Hell " of 
Swedenborg ; the u Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas 
Klimm " by Holberg ; the " Chiromancy " of Robert Flud, 
of Jean D' Indagine, and of Dela Chambre ; the " Jour- 
ney into the Blue Distance of Tieck " ; and the " City 
of the Sun of Campanella." One favorite volume was a 
small octavo edition of the " Directorium Inquisitorium," 
by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne ; and there were 
passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs 
and CEgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for 
hours. His chief delight, however, was found in the 
perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto 
Gothic — the manual of a forgotten church — the Vigilics 
Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesice Maguntince. 

I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, 
and of its probable influence upon the hypochondriac, 
when, one evening, having informed me abruptly that the 
lady Madeline was no more, he stated his intention of 
preserving her corpse for a fortnight (previously to its 
final interment), in one of the numerous vaults within the 
main walls of the building. The worldly reason, however, 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, 449 

assigned for this singular proceeding, was one which I did 
not feel at liberty to dispute. The brother had been led 
to his resolution (so he told me) by consideration of the 
unusual character of the malady of the deceased, of cer- 
tain obtrusive and eager inquiries on the part of her med- 
ical men, and of the remote and exposed situation of the 
burial-ground of the family. I will not deny that when I 
called to mind the sinister countenance of the person 
whom I met upon the staircase, on the day of my arrival 
at the house, I had no desire to oppose what I regarded 
as at best but a harmless, and by no means an unnatural, 
precaution. 

At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the 
arrangements for the temporary entombment. The body 
having been encoffined, we two alone bore it to its rest. 
The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so 
long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its 
oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for 
investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without 
means of admission for light ; lying, at great depth, im- 
mediately beneath that portion of the building in which 
was my own sleeping apartment. It had been used, ap- 
parently, in remote feudal times, for the worst purposes 
of a donjon-keep, and, in later days, as a place of deposit 
for powder, or some other highly combustible substance, 
as a portion of its floor, and the whole interior of a long 
archway through which we reached it, were carefully 
sheathed with copper. The door, of massive iron, had 



450 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

been, also, similarly protected. Its immense weight 
caused an unusually sharp, grating sound, as it moved 
upon its hinges. 

Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels 
within this region of horror, we partially turned aside the 
yet unscrewed lid of the coffin, and looked upon the face 
of the tenant. A striking similitude between the brother 
and sister now first arrested my attention ; and Usher, di- 
vining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few 
words from which I learned that the deceased and himself 
had been twins; and that sympathies of a scarcely intelli- 
gible nature had always existed between them. Our 
glances, however, rested not long upon the dead — for we 
could not regard her unawed. The disease which had 
thus entombed the lady in the maturity of youth, had 
left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly cataleptical char- 
acter, the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and 
the face, and. that suspiciously lingering smile upon the 
lip which is so terrible in death. We replaced and 
screwed down the lid, and, having secured the door of 
iron, made our way, with toil, into the scarcely less gloomy 
apartments of the upper portion of the house. 

And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an 
observable change came over the features of the mental 
disorder of my friend. His ordinary manner had vanished. 
His ordinary occupations were neglected or forgotten. 
He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, un- 
equal, and objectless step. The pallor of his countenance 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 451 

had assumed, if possible, a more ghastly 'hue — but the 
luminousness of his eye had utterly gone out. The once 
occasional huskiness of his tone was heard no more ; and a 
tremulous quaver, as if of extreme terror, habitually char- 
acterized his utterance. There were times, indeed, when I 
thought his unceasingly agitated mind was laboring with 
some oppressive secret, to divulge which he struggled for 
the necessary courage. At times, again, I was obliged to 
resolve all into the mere inexplicable vagaries of mad- 
ness, for I beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long 
hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if 
listening to some imaginary sound. It was no wonder 
that his condition terrified — that it infected me. I felt 
creeping upon me, by slow yet certain degrees, the wild 
influences of his own fantastic yet impressive super- 
stitions. 

It was, especially, upon retiring to bed late in the night 
of the seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady 
Madeline within the donjon, that I experienced the full 
power of such feelings. Sleep came not near my couch — 
while the hours waned and waned away. I struggled to 
reason off the nervousness which had dominion over me. I 
endeavored to believe that much, if not all of what I felt, 
was due to the bewildering influence of the gloomy furni, 
ture of the room — of the dark and tattered draperies, which, 
tortured into motion by the breath of a rising tempest, 
swayed fitfully to and fro upon the walls, and rustled un. 
easily about the decorations of the bed. But my efforts 



45 2 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, 

were fruitless.' An irrepressible tremor gradually per- 
vaded my frame ; and, at length, there sat upon my very 
heart an incubus of utterly causeless alarm. Shaking this 
off with a gasp and a struggle, I uplifted myself upon the 
pillows, and, peering earnestly within the intense dark- 
ness of the chamber, hearkened — I know not why, except 
that an instinctive spirit prompted me — to certain low and 
indefinite sounds which came, through the pauses of the 
storm, at long intervals, I knew not whence. Overpow- 
ered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet 
unendurable, I threw on my clothes with haste (for I felt 
that I should sleep no more during the night), and en- 
deavored to arouse myself from the pitiable condition into 
which I had fallen, by pacing rapidly to and fro through 
the apartment. 

I had taken but few turns in this manner, when a light 
step on an adjoining staircase arrested my attention. I 
presently recognized it as that of Usher. In an instant 
afterward he rapped, with a gentle touch, at my door, and 
entered, bearing a lamp. His countenance was, as usual, 
cadaverously wan — but, moreover, there was a species of 
mad hilarity in his eyes — an evidently restrained hysteria 
in his whole demeanor. His air appalled me — but any 
thing was preferable to the solitude which I had so long 
endured, and I even welcomed his presence as a relief. 

" And you have not seen it ? " he said abruptly, after 
having stared about him for some moments in silence — 
" you have not then seen it ? — but, stay ! you shall." 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 453 

Thus speaking, and having carefully shaded his lamp, he 
hurried to one of the casements, and threw it freely open 
to the storm. 

The impetuous fury of the entering gust nearly lifted 
us from our feet. It was, indeed, a tempestuous yet 
sternly beautiful night, and one wildly singular in its 
terror and its beauty. A whirlwind had apparently col- 
lected its force in our vicinity ; for there were frequent 
and violent alterations in the direction of the wind ; and 
the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low 
as to press upon the turrets of the house) did not prevent 
our perceiving the life-like velocity with which they flew 
careering from all points against each other, without pass- 
ing away into the distance. I say that even their exceeding 
density did not prevent our perceiving this — yet we had no 
glimpse of the moon or stars, nor was there any flashing 
forth of the lightning. But the under surfaces of the 
huge masses of agitated vapor, as well as all terrestrial 
objects immediately around us, were glowing in the un- 
natural light of a faintly luminous and distinctly visible 
gaseous exhalation which hung about and enshrouded the 
mansion. 

" You must not — you shall not behold this ! " said I, 
shuddering, to Usher, as I led him, with a gentle violence, 
from the window to a seat. " These appearances, which 
bewilder you, are merely electrical phenomena not un- 
common — or it may be that they have their ghastly origin 
in the rank miasma of the tarn. Let us close this case- 



454 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

ment ; — the air is chilling and dangerous to your frame. 
Here is one of your favorite romances. I will read, and 
you shall listen : — and so we will pass away this terrible 
night together." 

The antique volume which I had taken up was the 
" Mad Trist " of Sir Launcelot Canning ; but I had called 
it a favorite of Usher's more in sad jest than in earnest ; 
for, in truth, there is little in its uncouth and unimagina- 
tive prolixity which could have had interest for the lofty 
and spiritual ideality of my friend. It was, however, the 
only book immediately at hand ; and I indulged a vague 
hope that the excitement which now agitated the hypo- 
chondriac, might find relief (for the history of mental dis- 
order is full of similar anomalies) even in the extremeness 
of the folly which I should read. Could I have judged, 
indeed, by the wild overstrained air of vivacity with which 
he hearkened, or apparently hearkened, to the words of 
the tale, I might well have congratulated myself upon the 
success of my design. 

I had arrived at that well-known portion of the story 
where Ethelred, the hero of the Trist, having sought in 
vain for peaceable admission into the dwelling of the 
hermit, proceeds to make good an entrance by force. 
Here, it will be remembered, the words of the narrative 
run thus: 

" And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty heart, 
and who was now mighty withal, on account of the pow- 
erfulness of the wine which he had drunken, waited no 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 455 

longer to hold parley with the hermit, who, in sooth, was 
of an obstinate and maliceful turn, but, feeling the rain 
upon his shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, 
uplifted his mace outright, and, with blows, made quickly 
room in the plankings of the door for his gauntleted hand ;' 
and now pulling therewith sturdily, he so cracked, and 
ripped, and tore all asunder, that the noise of the dry 
and hollow-sounding wood alarumed and reverberated 
throughout the forest." 

At the termination of this sentence I started and, for a 
moment, paused ; for it appeared to me (although I at 

once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me) 

it appeared to me that, from some very remote portion of 
the mansion, there came, indistinctly to my ears, what 
might have been, in its exact similarity of character, the 
echo (but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the very 
cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so 
particularly described. It was, beyond doubt, the coinci- 
dence alone which had arrested my attention ; for, amid 
the rattling of the sashes of the casements, and the ordi- 
nary commingled noises of the still increasing storm, the 
sound, in itself, had nothing, surely, which should have 
interested or disturbed me. I continued the story: 

" But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within 
the door, was sore enraged and amazed to perceive no 
signal of the maliceful hermit ; but, in the stead thereof, a 
dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanor, and of a fiery 
tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with 



45^ THE FALL OF THE LLOUSE OF USHER. 

a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of 
shining brass with this legend enwritten — 

Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin ; 
Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win. 

And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the 
head of the dragon, which fell before him, and gave up 
his pesty breath, with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and 
withal so piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his ears 
with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like 
whereof was never before heard." 

Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling 
of wild amazement — for there could be no doubt whatever 
that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from 
what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) 
a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and 
most unusual screaming or grating sound — the exact 
counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up 
for the dragon's unnatural shriek as described by the 
romancer. 

Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of 
this second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a 
thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and ex- 
treme terror were predominant, I still retained sufficient 
presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any observation, 
the sensitive nervousness of my companion. I was by no 
means certain that he had noticed the sounds in question ; 
although, assuredly, a strange alteration had, during the 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 457 

last few minutes, taken place in his demeanor. From a 
position fronting my own, he had gradually brought 
round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of 
the chamber; and thus I could but partially perceive his 
features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he 
were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon 
his breast — yet I knew that he was not asleep, from the 
wide and rigid opening of the eye as I caught a glance of 
it in profile. The motion of his body, too, was at variance 
with this idea — for he rocked from side to side with a 
gentle yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly 
taken notice of all this, I resumed the narrative of Sir 
Launcelot, which thus proceeded : 

" And now, the champion, having escaped from the 
terrible fury of the dragon, bethinking himself of the 
brazen shield, and of the breaking up of the enchantment 
which was upon it, removed the carcass from out of the 
way before him, and approached valorously over the silver 
pavement of the castle to where the shield was upon the 
wall ; which in sooth tarried not for his full coming, but 
fell down at his feet upon the silver floor, with a mighty 
great and terrible ringing sound." 

No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than — as 
if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen 
heavily upon a floor of silver — I became aware of a dis- 
tinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently 
muffled, reverberation. Completely unnerved, I leaped 
to my feet ; but the measured rocking movement of 



45§ THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 

Usher was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which 
he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and 
throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony 
rigidity. But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, 
there came a strong shudder over his whole person ; a 
sickly smile quivered about his lips; and I saw that he 
spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if 
unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over him, 
I at length drank in the hideous import of his words. 

" Not hear it? — yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long 
— long — long — many minutes, many hours, many days, 
have I heard it — yet I dared not — oh, pity me, miserable 
wretch that I am ! — I dared not — I dared not speak ! 
We have put her living in the tomb ! Said I not that, my 
senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first 
feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them — 
many, many days ago — yet I dared not — I dared not 
speak ! And now — to-night — Ethelred — ha I ha ! — the 
breaking of the hermit's door, and the death-cry of the 
dragon, and the clangor of the shield — say, rather, the 
rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of 
her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway 
of the vault ! Oh ! whither shall I fly ? Will she not be 
here anon ? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my 
haste ? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair ? Do 
I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her 
heart? Madman ! " — here he sprang furiously to his feet, 
and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. 459 

giving up his soul— ■" Madman ! I tell you that she now 
stands without the door ! " 

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there 
had been found the potency of a spell, the huge antique 
panels to which the speaker pointed threw slowly back, 
upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It 
was the work of the rushing gust— but then without those 
doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of 
the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her 
white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle 
upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a 
moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro 
upon the threshold — then, with a low moaning cry, fell 
heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her 
violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor 
a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.. 

From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled 
aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I 
found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there 
shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see 
whence a gleam so unusual could have issued ; for the 
vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The 
radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, 
which now shone vividly through that once barely dis- 
cernible fissure, of which I have before spoken as extend- 
ing from the roof of the building, in a zigzag direction, to 
the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened— 
there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind— the entire 



460 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, 



orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight — my brain 
reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder — there 
was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a 
thousand waters — and the deep and dank tarn at my feet 
closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the 
" House of Usher." 





THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 



Impia tortorum longas hie turba furores 
Sanguinis innocui, non satiata, aluit. 
Sospite nunc patria, fracto nunc funeris antro, 
Mors ubi dira fuit vita salusque patent. 

[Quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the 
Jacobin Club House at Paris.'] 

I WAS sick — sick unto death with that long agony ; and 
when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted 
to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence 
— the dread sentence of death — was the last of distinct 
accentuation which reached my ears. After that, the 
sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one 
dreamy indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my soul the 
idea of revolution — perhaps from its association in fancy 
with the burr of a mill-wheel. This only for a brief peri- 
od, for presently I heard no more. Yet, for a while, I 
saw — but with how terrible an exaggeration ! I saw the 
lips of the black-robed judges. They appeared to me 
white — whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these 
words — and thin even to grotesqueness; thin with the 
intensity of their expression of firmness — of immovable 

461 



462 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

resolution — of stern contempt of human torture. I saw 
that the decrees of what to me was Fate were still issuing 
from those lips. I saw them writhe with a deadly locu- 
tion. I saw them fashion the syllables of my name ; and 
I shuddered because no sound succeeded. I saw, too, for 
a few moments of delirious horror, the soft and nearly 
imperceptible waving of the sable draperies which en- 
wrapped the walls of the apartment. And then my vision 
fell upon the seven tall candles upon the table. At first 
they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed white slender 
angels who would save me ; but then, all at once, there 
came a most deadly nausea over my spirit, and I felt every 
fibre in my frame thrill as if I had touched the wire of a 
galvanic battery, while the angel forms became meaning- 
less spectres, with heads of flame, and I saw that from 
them there would be no help. And then there stole into 
my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what 
sweet rest there must be in the grave. The thought came 
gently and stealthily, and it seemed long before it attained 
full appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length 
properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the judges 
vanished, as if magically, from before me ; the tall candles 
sank into nothingness ; their flames went out utterly ; the 
blackness of darkness supervened ; all sensations appeared 
swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into 
Hades. Then silence, and stillness, and night were the 
universe. 

I had swooned ; but still will not say that all of con- 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 463 

sciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will not 
attempt to define, or even to describe ; yet all was not 
lost. In the deepest slumber — no! In delirium — no! 
In a swoon — no ! In death — no ! even in the grave all is 
not lost. Else there is no immortality for man. Arous- 
ing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the 
gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterward, 
(so frail may that web have been) we remember not that 
we have dreamed. In the return to life from the swoon 
there are two stages : first, that of the sense of mental or 
spiritual ; secondly, that of the sense of physical, exist- 
ence. It seems probable that if, upon reaching the second 
stage, we could recall the impressions of the first, we 
should find these impressions eloquent in memories of the 
gulf beyond. And that gulf is — what? How at least 
shall we distinguish its shadows from those of the tomb ? 
But if the impressions of what I have termed the first 
stage are not, at will, recalled, yet, after long interval, do 
they not come unbidden, while we marvel whence they 
come ? He who has never swooned, is not he who finds 
strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that 
glow ; is not he who beholds floating in mid-air the sad 
visions that the many may not view; is not he who 
ponders over the perfume of some novel flower ; is not he 
whose brain grows bewildered with the meaning of some 
musical cadence which has never before arrested his at- 
tention. 

Amid frequent and thoughtful endeavors to remember 



464 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

amid earnest struggles to regather some token of the state 
of seeming nothingness into which my soul had lapsed, 
there have been moments when I have dreamed of suc- 
cess ; there have been brief, very brief periods when I 
have conjured up remembrances which the lucid reason of 
a later epoch assures me could have had reference only 
to that condition of seeming unconsciousness. These 
shadows of memory tell, indistinctly, of tall figures that 
lifted and bore me in silence down — down — still down — 
till a hideous dizziness oppressed me at the mere idea of 
the interminableness of the descent. They tell also of a 
vague horror at my heart, on account of that heart's un- 
natural stillness. Then comes a sense of sudden motion- 
lessness throughout all things ; as if those who bore me (a 
ghastly train !) had outrun, in their descent, the limits of 
the limitless, and paused from the wearisomeness of their 
toil. After this I call to mind flatness and dampness ; 
and then all is madness — the madness of a memory which 
busies itself among forbidden things. 

Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and 
sound — the tumultuous motion of the heart, and, in my 
ears, the sound of its beating. Then a pause in which all 
is blank. Then again sound, and motion, and touch — a 
tingling sensation pervading my frame. Then the mere 
consciousness of existence, without thought — a condition 
which lasted long. Then, very suddenly, thought, and 
shuddering terror, and earnest endeavor to comprehend 
my true state. Then a strong desire to lapse into insensi- 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 465 

bility. Then a rushing revival of soul and a successful 
effort to move. And now a full memory of the trial, of 
the judges, of the sable draperies, of the sentence, of the 
sickness, of the swoon. Then entire forgetfulness of all 
that followed ; of all that a later day and much earnest- 
ness of endeavor have enabled me vaguely to recall. 

So far, I had not opened my eyes. I felt that I lay 
upon my back, unbound. I reached out my hand, and it 
fell heavily upon something damp and hard. There I 
suffered it to remain for many minutes, while I strove to 
imagine where and what I could be. I longed, yet dared 
not, to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at 
objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon 
things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should 
be nothiitg to see. At length, with a wild desperation at 
heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, 
then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night en- 
compassed me. I struggled for breath. The intensity of 
the darkness seemed to oppress and stifle me. The at- 
mosphere was intolerably close. I still lay quietly, and 
made effort to exercise my reason. I brought to mind 
the inquisitorial proceedings, and attempted from that 
point to deduce my real condition. The sentence had 
passed ; and it appeared to me that a very long interval 
of time had since elapsed. Yet not for a moment did I 
suppose myself actually dead. Such a supposition, not- 
withstanding what we read in fiction, is altogether incon- 
sistent with real existence ;— but where and in what state 



466 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

was I ? The condemned to death, I knew, perished 
usually at the auto-da-fes y and one of these had been held 
on the very night of the day of my trial. Had I been re- 
manded to my dungeon, to await the next sacrifice, which 
would not take place for many months ? This I at once 
saw could not be. Victims had been in immediate de- 
mand. Moreover, my dungeon, as well as all the con- 
demned cells at Toledo, had stone floors, and light was 
not altogether excluded. 

A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in tor- 
rents upon my heart, and for a brief period I once more 
relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I at once 
started to my feet, trembling convulsively in every fibre. 
I thrust my arms wildly above and around me in all 
directions. I felt nothing ; yet dreaded to move a step, 
lest I should be impeded by the walls of a tomb. Per- 
spiration burst from every pore, and stood in cold big 
beads upon my forehead. The agony of suspense grew 
at length intolerable, and I cautiously moved forward, 
with my arms extended, and my eyes straining from 
their sockets in the hope of catching some faint ray of 
light. I proceeded for many paces ; but still all was 
blackness and vacancy. I breathed more freely. It 
seemed evident that mine was not, at least, the most 
hideous of fates. 

And now, as I still continued to step cautiously onward, 
there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand 
vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo. Of the dungeons 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 467 

there had been strange things narrated— fables I had al- 
ways deemed them —but yet strange, and too ghastly to 
repeat, save in a whisper. Was I left to perish of starvation 
in this subterranean world of darkness; or what fate 
perhaps even more fearful, awaited me ? That the result 
would be death, and a death of more than customary bit- 
terness, I knew too well the character of my judges to 
doubt. The mode and the hour were all that occupied 
or distracted me. 

My outstretched hands at length encountered some 
solid obstruction. It was a wall, seemingly of stone 
masonry — very smooth, slimy, and cold. I followed it 
up ; stepping with all the careful distrust with which cer- 
tain antique narratives had inspired me. This process, 
however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimen- 
sions of my dungeon, as I might make its circuit and re- 
turn to the point whence I set out without being aware 
of the fact, so perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I 
therefore sought the knife which had been in my pocket 
when led into the inquisitorial chamber ; but it was gone; 
my clothes had been exchanged for a wrapper of coarse 
serge. I had thought of forcing the blade in some min- 
ute crevice of the masonry, so as to identify my point of 
departure. The difficulty, nevertheless, was but trivial : - 
although, in the disorder of my fancy, it seemed at first 
insuperable. I tore a part of the hem from the robe and 
placed the fragment at full length, and at right angles to 
the wall. In groping my way around the prison, I could 



468 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

not fail to encounter this rag upon completing the circuit. 
So, at least, I thought ; but I had not counted upon the 
extent of the dungeon, or upon my own weakness. The 
ground was moist and slippery. I staggered onward for 
some time, when I stumbled and fell. My excessive 
fatigue induced me to remain prostrate ; and sleep soon 
overtook me as I lay. 

Upon awaking, and stretching forth an arm, I found 
beside me a loaf and a pitcher with water. I was too much 
exhausted to reflect upon this circumstance, but ate and 
drank with avidity. Shortly afterward, I resumed my 
tour around the prison, and with much toil, came at last 
upon the fragment of the serge. Up to the period when 
I fell, I had counted fifty-two paces, and, upon resuming 
my walk, I had counted forty-eight more — when I arrived 
at the rag. There were in all, then, a hundred paces ; and, 
admitting two paces to the yard, I presumed the dungeon 
to be fifty yards in circuit. I had met, however, with 
many angles in the wall, and thus I could form no guess 
at the shape of the vault, for vault I could not help sup- 
posing it to be. 

I had little object — certainly no hope — in these re- 
searches ; but a vague curiosity prompted me to continue 
them. Quitting the wall, I resolved to cross the area 
of the enclosure. At first, I proceeded with extreme cau- 
tion, for the floor, although seemingly of solid material, 
was treacherous with slime. At length, however, I took 
courage, and did not hesitate to step firmly — endeavoring 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 469 

to cross in as direct a line as possible. I had advanced 
some ten or twelve paces in this manner, when the 
remnant of the torn hem of my robe became entangled 
between my legs. I stepped on it, and fell violently on 
my face. 

In the confusion attending my fall, I did not imme- 
diately apprehend a somewhat startling circumstance, 
which yet, in a few seconds afterward, and while I still lay 
prostrate, arrested my attention. It was this : my chin 
rested upon the floor of the prison, but my lips, and the 
upper portion of my head, although seemingly at a 
less elevation than the chin, touched nothing. At the 
same time, my forehead seemed bathed in a clammy 
vapor, and the peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose to 
my nostrils. I put forward my arm, and shuddered to 
find that I had fallen at the very brink of a circular pit, 
whose extent, of course, I had no means of ascertaining at 
the moment. Groping about the masonry just below the 
margin, I succeeded in dislodging a small fragment, and 
let it fall into the abyss. For many seconds I hearkened 
to its reverberations as it dashed against the sides' of the 
chasm in its descent ; at length, there was a sullen plunge 
into water, succeeded by loud echoes. At the same mo- 
ment, there came a sound resembling the quick opening 
and as rapid closing of a door overhead, while a faint 
gleam of light flashed suddenly through the gloom, and as 
suddenly faded away. 

I saw clearly the doom which had been prepared for 



470 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

me, and congratulated myself upon the timely accident 
by which I had escaped. Another step before my fall, 
and the world had seen me no more. And the death just 
avoided was of that very character which I had regarded 
as fabulous and frivolous in the tales respecting the 
Inquisition. To the victims of its tyranny, there was the 
choice of death with its direst physical agonies, or death 
with its most hideous moral horrors. I had been reserved 
for the latter. By long suffering my nerves had been un- 
strung, until I trembled at the sound of my own voice, 
and had become in every respect a fitting subject for the 
species of torture which awaited me. 

Shaking in every limb, I groped my way back to the 
wall — resolving there to perish rather than risk the terrors 
of the wells, of which my imagination now pictured many 
in various positions about the dungeon. In other condi- 
tions of mind, I might have had courage to end my misery 
at once, by a plunge into one of these abysses ; but now I 
was the veriest of cowards. Neither could I forget what 
I had read of these pits — that the sudden extinction of life 
formed no part of their most horrible plan. 

Agitation of spirit kept me awake for many long hours , 
but at length I again slumbered. Upon arousing, I found 
by my side, as before, a loaf and a pitcher of water. A 
burning thirst consumed me, and I emptied the vessel at 
a draught. It must have been drugged — for scarcely had 
I drunk, before I became irresistibly drowsy. A deep 
sleep fell upon me — a sleep like that of death. How long 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 471 

it lasted, of course I know not ; but when, once again, 
I unclosed my eyes, the objects around me were visible. 
By a wild, sulphurous lustre, the origin of which I could 
not at first determine, I was enabled to see the extent 
and aspect of the prison. 

In its size I had been greatly mistaken. The whole 
circuit of its walls did not exceed twenty-five yards. For 
some minutes this fact occasioned me a world of vain 
•ouble ; vain indeed — for what could be of less im- 
>rtance, under the terrible circumstances which environed 
), than the mere dimensions of my dungeon? But my 
ml took a wild interest in trifles, and I busied myself in 
ideavors to account for the error I had committed in my 
:asurement. The truth at length flashed upon me. 
my first attempt at exploration I had counted fifty- 
r o paces, up to the period when I fell : I must then have 
?en within a pace or two of the fragment of serge ; in 
fact, I had nearly performed the circuit of the vault. I 
then slept — and, upon awaking, I must have returned 
upon my steps — thus supposing the circuit nearly double 
what it actually was. My confusion of mind prevented 
me from observing that I began my tour with the 
wall to the left, and ended it with the wall to the 
right. 

I had been deceived, too, in respect to the shape of the 
enclosure. In feeling my way I had found many angles, 
and thus deduced an idea of great irregularity ; so potent 
is the effect of total darkness upon one arousing from 



47 '2 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

lethargy or sleep ! The angles were simply those of a 
few slight depressions, or niches, at odd intervals. The 
general shape of the prison was square. What I had 
taken for masonry seemed now to be iron, or some other 
metal, in huge plates, whose sutures or joints occasioned 
the depression. The entire surface of this metallic enclo- 
sure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and repulsive 
devices to which the charnel superstition of the monks 
has given rise. The figures of fiends in aspects of men- 
ace, with skeleton forms, and other more really fearful 
images, overspread and disfigured the walls. I observed 
that the outlines of these monstrosities were sufficiently 
distinct, but that the colors seemed faded and blurred, as 
if from the effects of a damp atmosphere. I now noticed 
the floor, too, which was of stone. In the centre yawned 
the circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped ; but it 
was the only one in the dungeon. 

All this I saw indistinctly and by much effort — for my 
personal condition had been greatly changed during slum- 
ber. I now lay upon my back, and at full length, on a 
species of low framework of wood. To this I was securely 
bound by a long strap resembling a surcingle. It passed 
in many convolutions about my limbs and body, leaving 
at liberty only my head, and my left arm to such extent, 
that I could, by dint of much exertion, supply myself 
with food from an earthen dish which lay by my side on 
the floor. I saw, to my horror, that the pitcher had been 
removed. I say to my horror — for I was consumed with 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 473 

intolerable thirst. This thirst it appeared to be the de- 
sign of my persecutors to stimulate— for the food in the 
dish was meat pungently seasoned. 

Looking upward, I surveyed the ceiling of my prison. 
It was some thirty or forty feet overhead, and constructed 
much as the side walls. In one of its panels a very singu- 
lar figure riveted my whole attention. It was the painted 
figure of Time as he is commonly represented, save that, 
in lieu of a scythe, he held what, at a casual glance, I sup- 
posed to be the pictured image of a huge pendulum, such 
as we see on antique clocks. There was something, how- 
ever, in the appearance of this machine which caused me 
to regard it more attentively. While I gazed directly 
upward at it (for its position was immediately over my 
own) I fancied that I saw it in motion. In an instant 
afterward the fancy was confirmed. Its sweep was brief, 
and of course slow. I watched it for some minutes some- 
what in fear, but more in wonder. Wearied at length 
with observing its dull movement, I turned my eyes upon 
the other objects in the cell. 

A slight noise attracted my notice, and, looking to the 
floor, I saw several enormous rats traversing it. They 
had issued from the well which lay just within view to my 
right. Even then, while I gazed, they came up in troops, 
hurriedly, with ravenous eyes, allured by the scent of the 
meat. From this it required much effort and attention 
to scare them away. 

It might have been half an hour, perhaps even an hour 



474 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

(for I could take but imperfect note of time), before I 
again cast my eyes upward. What I then saw con- 
founded and amazed me. The sweep of the pendulum 
had increased in extent by nearly a yard. As a natural 
consequence its velocity was also much greater. But 
what mainly disturbed me was the idea that it had per- 
ceptibly descended. I now observed — with what horror it 
is needless to say — that its nether extremity was formed 
of a crescent of glittering steel, about a foot in length 
from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under 
edge evidently as keen as that of a razor. Like a razor 
also, it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from the 
edge into a solid and broad structure above. It was ap- 
pended to a weighty rod of brass, and the whole hissed as 
it swung through the air. 

I could no longer doubt the doom prepared for me by 
monkish ingenuity in torture. My cognizance of the pit 
had become known to the inquisitorial agents — the pit, 
whose horrors had been destined for so bold a recusant as 
myself — the pit ', typical of hell and regarded by rumor as 
the Ultima Thule of all their punishments. The plunge 
into this pit I had avoided by the merest of accidents, 
and I knew that surprise, or entrapment into torment, 
formed an important portion of all the grotesquerieof these 
dungeon deaths. Having failed to fall, it was no part of 
the demon plan to hurl me into the abyss , and thus 
(there being no alternative) a different and a milder de- 
struction awaited me. Milder ! I half smiled in my 
agony as I thought of such application of such a term. 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 475 

What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror 
more than mortal, during which I counted the rushing 

oscillations of the steel ! Inch by inch — line by line with 

w a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages 
— down and still down it came ! Days passed — it might 
have been that many days passed— ere it swept so closely 
over me as to fan me with its acrid breath. The odor of 
the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed — 
I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy de- 
scent. I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force 
myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. 
And then I fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at the glit- 
tering death, as a child at some rare bauble. 

There was another interval of utter insensibility ; it was 
brief ; for, upon again lapsing into life, there had been no 
perceptible descent in the pendulum. But it might have 
been long — for I knew there were demons who took note 
of my swoon, and who could have arrested the vibration 
at pleasure. Upon my recovery, too, I felt very — oh ! in- 
expressibly — sick and weak, as if through long inanition. 
Even amid the agonies of that period, the human nature 
craved food. With painful effort I outstretched my left 
arm as far as my bonds permitted, and took possession of 
the small remnant which had been spared me by the rats. 
As I put a portion of it within my lips, there rushed to 
my mind a half-formed thought of joy— of hope. Yet 
what business had /with hope? It was, as I say, a half- 
formed thought — man has many such, which are never 



47 6 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

completed. I felt that it was of joy — of hope ; but I felt 
also that it had perished in its formation. In vain I 
struggled to perfect — to regain it. Long suffering had 
nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers of mind. I 
was an imbecile — an idiot. 

The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to 
my length. I saw that the crescent was designed to cross 
the region of the heart. It would fray the serge of my 
robe — it would return and repeat its operations — again — 
and again. Notwithstanding its terrifically wide sweep 
(some thirty feet or more), and the hissing vigor of its 
descent, sufficient to sunder these very walls of iron, still 
the fraying of my robe would be all that, for several min- 
utes, it would accomplish. And at this thought I 
paused. I dared not go further than this reflection, I 
dwelt upon it with a pertinacity of attention — as if, in so 
dwelling, I could arrest here the descent of the steel. I 
forced myself to ponder upon the sound of the crescent 
as it should pass across the garment — upon the peculiar 
thrilling sensation which the friction of cloth produces on 
the nerves. I pondered upon all this frivolity until my 
teeth were on edge. 

Down — steadily down it crept. I took a frenzied pleas- 
ure in contrasting its downward with its lateral velocity. 
To the right — to the left — far and wide — with the shriek 
of a damned spirit ! to my heart, with the stealthy pace 
of the tiger ! I alternately laughed and howled, as the one 
or the other idea grew predominant. 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 477 

Down— certainly, relentlessly down ! It vibrated within 
three inches of my bosom ! I struggled violently— furi- 
ously—to free my left arm. This was free only from the 
elbow to the hand. I could reach the latter, from the 
platter beside me, to my mouth, with great effort, but no 
farther. Could I have broken the fastenings above the 
elbow, I would have seized and attempted to arrest the 
' pendulum. I might as well have attempted to arrest an 
avalanche ! 

Down — still unceasingly — still inevitably down! I 
gasped and struggled at each vibration. I shrunk con- 
vulsively at its every sweep. My eyes followed its out- 
ward or upward whirls with the eagerness of the most 
unmeaning despair ; they closed themselves spasmodically 
at the descent, although death would have been a relief, 
oh, how unspeakable ! Still I quivered in every nerve to 
think how slight a sinking of the machinery would pre- 
cipitate that keen, glistening axe upon my bosom. It 
was hope that prompted the nerve to quiver — the frame 
to shrink. It was hope — the hope that triumphs on the 
rack — that whispers to the death-condemned even in the 
dungeons of the Inquisition. 

I saw that some ten or twelve vibrations would bring 
the steel in actual contact with my robe — and with this 
observation there suddenly came over my spirit all the 
keen, collected calmness of despair. For the first time 
during many hours — or perhaps days — I thought. It now 
occurred to me, that the bandage, or surcingle, which en- 



478 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

veloped me, was unique. I was tied by no separate cord. 
The first stroke of the razor-like crescent athwart any por- 
tion of the band would so detach it that it might be un- 
wound from my person by means of my left hand. But 
how fearful, in that case, the proximity of the steel ! The 
result of the slightest struggle, how deadly ! Was it 
likely, moreover, that the minions of the torturer had not 
foreseen and provided for this possibility ? Was it prob- 
able that the bandage crossed my bosom in the track of 
the pendulum ? Dreading to find my faint and, as it 
seemed, my last hope frustrated, I so far elevated my head 
as to obtain a distinct view of my breast. The surcingle 
enveloped my limbs and body close in all directions — 
save in the path of the destroying crescent. 

Scarcely had I dropped my head back into its original 
position, when there flashed upon my mind what I cannot 
better describe than as the unformed half of that idea of 
deliverance to which I have previously alluded, and of 
which a moiety only floated indeterminately through my 
brain when I raised food to my burning lips. The whole 
thought was now present — feeble, scarcely sane, scarcely 
definite — but still entire. I proceeded at once, with the 
nervous energy of despair, to attempt its execution. 

For many hours the immediate vicinity of the low frame- 
work upon which I lay had been literally swarming with 
rats. They were wild, bold, ravenous — their red eyes 
glaring upon me as if they waited but for motionlessness 
on my part to make me their prey. " To what food," I 
thought, " have they been accustomed in the well ? " 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 479 

They had devoured, in spite of all my efforts to prevent 
them, all but a small remnant of the contents of the dish. 
I had fallen into an habitual see-saw or wave of the hand 
about the platter ; and, at length, the unconscious uni- 
formity of the movement deprived it of effect. In their 
voracity, the vermin frequently fastened their sharp fangs 
in my fingers. With the particles of the oily and spicy 
viand which now remained, I thoroughly rubbed the ban- 
dage wherever I could reach it ; then, raising my hand 
from the floor, I lay breathlessly still. 

At first, the ravenous animals were startled and terrified 
at the change — at the cessation of movement. They 
shrank alarmedly back ; many sought the well. But this 
was only for a moment. I had not counted in vain upon 
their voracity. Observing that I remained without mo- 
tion, one or two of the boldest leaped upon the frame- 
work, and smelt at the surcingle. This seemed the 
signal for a general rush. Forth from the well they hur- 
ried in fresh troops. They clung to the wood — they over- 
ran it, and leaped in hundreds upon my person. The 
measured movement of the pendulum disturbed them not 
at all. Avoiding its strokes, they busied themselves with 
the anointed bandage. They pressed — they swarmed 
upon me in ever accumulating heaps. They writhed upon 
my throat ; their cold lips sought my own ; I was half 
stifled by their thronging pressure ; disgust, for which the 
world has no name, swelled my bosom, and chilled, with 
a heavy clamminess, my heart. Yet one minute, and I 



480 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

felt that the struggle would be over. Plainly I perceived 
the loosening of the bandage. I knew that in more than 
one place it must be already severed. With a more than 
human resolution I lay still. 

Nor had I erred in my calculations — nor had I endured 
in vain. I at length felt that I was free. The surcingle 
hung in ribands from my body. But the stroke of the 
pendulum already pressed upon my bosom. It had di- 
vided the serge of the robe. It had cut through the linen 
beneath. Twice again it swung, and a sharp sense of pain 
shot through every nerve. But the moment of escape had 
arrived. At a wave of my hand my deliverers hurried tu- 
multously away. With a steady movement — cautious, 
sidelong, shrinking, and slow — I slid from the embrace of 
the bandage and beyond the reach of the scimitar. For 
the moment, at least, I was free. 

Free ! — and in the grasp of the Inquisition ! I had 
scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of horror upon 
the stone floor of the prison, when the motion of the hell- 
ish machine ceased, and I beheld it drawn up, by some in- 
visible force, through the ceiling. This was a lesson 
which I took desperately to heart. My every motion was 
undoubtedly watched. Free ! — I had but escaped death 
in one form of agony, to *be delivered unto worse than 
death in some other. With that thought I rolled my 
eyes nervously around on the barriers of iron that hemmed 
me in. Something unusual — some change which, at first, 
I could not appreciate distinctly — it was obvious, had 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 48 j 

taken place in the apartment. For many minutes of a 
dreamy and trembling abstraction, I busied myself in 
vain, unconnected conjecture. During this period, I be- 
came aware, for the first time, of the origin of the sul- 
phurous light which illumined the cell. It proceeded 
from a fissure, about half an inch in width, extending 
entirely around the prison at the base of the walls, which 
thus appeared, and were completely separated from the 
floor. I endeavored, but of course in vain, to look 
through the aperture. 

As I arose from the attempt, the mystery of the altera- 
tion in the chamber broke at once upon my understanding. 
I have observed that, although the outlines of the figures 
upon the walls were sufficiently distinct, yet the colors 
seemed blurred and indefinite. These colors had now as- 
sumed, and were momentarily assuming, a startling and 
most intense brilliancy, that gave to the spectral and 
fiendish portraitures an aspect that might have thrilled 
even firmer nerves than my own. Demon eyes, of a wild 
and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a thousand direc- 
tions, where none had been visible before, and gleamed 
with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could not force my 
imagination to regard as unreal. 

Unreal! — Even while I breathed there came to my nos- 
trils the breath of the vapor of heated iron ! A suffo- 
cating odor pervaded the prison ! A deeper glow settled 
each moment in the eyes that glared at my agonies ! A 
richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the pictured 



482 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 

horrors of blood. I panted ! I gasped for breath ! There 
could be no doubt of the design of my tormentors — oh ! 
most unrelenting ! oh ! most demoniac of men ! I shrank 
from the glowing metal to the centre of the cell. Amid 
the thought of the fiery destruction that impended, the 
idea of the coolness of the well came "over my soul like 
balm. I rushed to its deadly brink, I threw my strain- 
ing vision below. The glare from the enkindled roof 
illumined its inmost recesses. Yet, for a wild moment, 
did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning of what I 
saw. At length it forced — it wrestled its way into my 
soul — it burned itself in upon my shuddering reason. Oh ! 
for a voice to speak ! — oh ! horror ! — oh ! any horror but 
this ! With a shriek, I rushed from the margin, and 
buried my face in my hands — weeping bitterly. 

The heat rapidly increased, and once again I looked up, 
shuddering as with a fit of the ague. There had been a 
second change in the cell — and now the change was ob- 
viously in the form. As before, it was in vain that I at 
first endeavored to appreciate or understand what was 
taking place. But not long was I left in doubt. The In- 
quisitorial vengeance had been hurried by my two-fold 
escape, and there was to be no more dallying with the 
King of Terrors. The room had been square. I saw 
that two of its iron angles were now acute — two, conse- 
quently, obtuse. The fearful difference quickly increased 
with a low rumbling or moaning sound. In an instant 
the apartment had shifted its form into that of a lozenge. 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. 483 

But the alteration stopped not here— I neither hoped nor 
desired it to stop. I could have clasped the red walls to 
my bosom as a garment of eternal peace. " Death," I 
said, " any death but that of the pit ! " Fool ! might I not 
have known that into the pit it was the object of the burn- 
ing iron to urge me ? Could I resist its glow ? or if even 
that, could I withstand its pressure ? And now, flatter 
and flatter grew the lozenge, with a rapidity that left me 
no time for contemplation. Its centre, and of course its 
greatest width, came just over the yawning gulf. I shrank 
back — but the closing walls pressed me resistlessly on- 
ward. At length for my seared and writhing body there 
was no longer an inch of foothold on the firm floor of the 
prison. I struggled no more, but the agony of my soul 
found vent in one loud, long, and final scream of despair. 
I felt that I tottered upon the brink — I averted my eyes — 
There was a discordant hum of human voices ! There 
was a loud blast as of many trumpets! There was a 
harsh grating as of a thousand thunders ! The fiery walls 
rushed back ! An outstretched arm caught my own as I 
fell, fainting, into the abyss. It was that of General 
Lasallei The French army had entered Toledo. The 
Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies. 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 



THERE are certain themes of which the interest is 
all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible 
for the purposes of legitimate fiction. These the mere 
romanticist must eschew, if he do not wish to offend, or 
to disgust. They are with propriety handled only when 
the severity* and majesty of truth sanctify and sustain 
them. We thrill, for example, with the most intense of 
" pleasurable pain " over the accounts of the Passage of the 
Beresina, of the Earthquake at Lisbon, of the Plague at 
London, of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, or of the 
stifling of the hundred and twenty-three prisoners in the 
Black Hole at Calcutta. But, in these accounts, it is the 
fact — it is the reality — it is the history which excites. As 
inventions, we should regard them with simple abhor- 
rence. 

I have mentioned some few of the more prominent and 
august calamities on record ; but in these it is the extent, 
not less than the character of the calamity, which so 
vividly impresses the fancy. I need not remind the reader 
that, from the long and weird catalogue of human miseries, 

484 









THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 485 

I might have selected many individual instances more re- 
plete with essential suffering than any of these vast gener- 
alities of disaster. The true wretchedness, indeed,— the 
ultimate woe, — is particular, not diffuse. That the ghastly 
extremes of agony are endured by man the unit, and 
never by man the mass— for this let us thank a merciful 
God! 

To be buried while alive is, beyond question, the most 
terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot 
of mere mortality. That it has frequently, very fre- 
quently, so fallen will scarcely be denied by those who 
think. The boundaries which divide Life from Death 
are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the 
one ends, and where the other begins? We know that 
there are diseases in which occur total cessations of all the 
apparent functions of vitality, and yet in which these ces- 
sations are merely suspensions, properly so called. They 
are only temporary pauses in the incomprehensible mech- 
anism. A certain period elapses, and some unseen mys- 
terious principle again sets in motion the magic pinions 
and the wizard wheels. The silver cord was not for ever 
loosed, nor the golden bowl irreparably broken. But 
where, meantime, was the soul ? 

Apart, however, from the inevitable conclusion, a priori 
that such causes must produce such effects, — that the 
well-known occurrence of such cases of suspended anima- 
tion must naturally give rise, now and then, to premature 
interments, — apart from this consideration, we have the 



486 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

direct testimony of medical and ordinary experience to 
prove that a vast number of such interments have actually 
taken place. I might refer at once, if necessary, to a hun- 
dred well-authenticated instances. One of very remark- 
able character, and of which the circumstances may be 
fresh in the memory of some of my readers, occurred, not 
very long ago, in the neighboring city of Baltimore, where 
it occasioned a painful, intense, and widely-extended ex- 
citement. The wife of one of the most respectable citizens 
— a lawyer of eminence and a member of Congress — was 
seized with a sudden and unaccountable illness, which 
completely baffled the skill of her physicians. After 
much suffering she died, or was supposed to die. No one 
suspected, indeed, or had reason to suspect, that she was 
not actually dead. She presented all the ordinary ap- 
pearances of death. The face assumed the usual pinched 
and sunken outline. The lips were of the usual marble 
pallor. The eyes were lustreless. There was no warmth. 
Pulsation had ceased. For three days the body was pre- 
served unburied, during which it had acquired a stony 
rigidity. The funeral, in short, was hastened, on account 
of the rapid advance of what was supposed to be decom- 
position. 

The lady was deposited in her family vault, which, for 
three subsequent years, was undisturbed. At the expira- 
tion of this term it was opened for the reception of a 
sarcophagus ; — but, alas ! how fearful a'shock awaited the 
husband, who, personally, threw open the door ! As its 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 487 

portals swung outwardly back, some white-apparelled ob- 
ject fell rattling within his arms. It was the skeleton of 
his wife in her yet unmoulded shroud. 

A careful investigation rendered it evident that she had 
revived within two days after her entombment ; that her 
struggles within the coffin had caused it to fall from a 
ledge, or shelf, to the floor, where it was so broken as to 
permit her escape. A lamp which had been accidentally 
left, full of oil, within the tomb, was found empty ; it 
might have been exhausted, however, by evaporation. 
On the uppermost of the steps which led down into the 
dread chamber was a large fragment of the coffin, with 
which, it seemed, that she had endeavored to arrest at- 
tention by striking the iron door. While thus occupied, 
she probably swooned, or possibly died, through sheer ter- 
ror ; and, in falling, her shroud became entangled in some 
iron-work which projected interiorly. Thus she remained, 
and thus she rotted, erect. 

In the year 18 10, a case of living inhumation happened 
in France, attended with circumstances which go far to 
warrant the assertion that truth is, indeed, stranger than 
fiction. The heroine of the story was a Mademoiselle 
Victorine Lafourcade, a young girl of illustrious family, 
of wealth, and of great personal beauty. Among her 
numerous suitors was Julien Bossuet, a poor litterateur, 
or journalist, of Paris. His talents and general amiability 
had recommended him to the notice of the heiress, by 
whom he seems to have been truly beloved; but her 



488 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

pride of birth decided her, finally, to reject him, and to 
wed a Monsieur Renelle, a banker and a diplomatist of 
some eminence. After marriage, however, this gentleman 
neglected, and, perhaps, even, more positively ill-treated 
her. Having passed with' him some wretched years, she 
died — at least her condition so closely resembled death as 
to deceive every one who saw her. She was buried — not 
in a vault, but in an ordinary grave in the village of her 
nativity. Filled with despair, and still inflamed by the 
memory of a profound attachment, the lover journeys 
from the capital to the remote province in which the vil- 
lage lies, with the romantic purpose of disinterring the 
corpse, and possessing himself of its luxuriant tresses. 
He reaches the grave. At midnight he unearths the 
coffin, opens it, and is in the act of detaching the hair, 
when he is arrested by the unclosing of the beloved eyes. 
In fact, the lady had been buried alive. Vitality had not 
altogether departed, and she was aroused by the caresses 
of her lover from the lethargy which had been mistaken 
for death. He bore her frantically to his lodgings in the 
village. He employed certain powerful restoratives sug- 
gested by no little medical learning. In fine, she revived. 
She recognized her preserver. She remained with him 
until, by slow degrees, she fully recovered her original 
health. Her woman's heart was not adamant, and this 
last lesson of love sufficed to soften it. She bestowed it 
upon Bossuet. She returned no more to her husband, 
but, concealing from him her resurrection, fled with her 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 489 

lover to America. Twenty years afterward, the two re- 
turned to France, in the persuasion that time had so 
greatly altered the lady's appearance that her friends 
would be unable to recognize her. They were mistaken, 
however ; for, at the first meeting, Monsieur Renelle did 
actually recognize and make claim to his wife. This claim 
she resisted, and a judicial tribunal sustained her in her 
resistance, deciding that the peculiar circumstances, with 
the long lapse of years, had extinguished, not only equi- 
tably, but legally, the authority of the husband. 

The Chirurgical Journal of Leipsic, a periodical of 
high authority and merit, which some American book- 
seller would do well to translate and republish, records 
in a late number a very distressing event of the char- 
acter in question. 

An officer of artillery, a man of gigantic stature and of 
robust health, being thrown from an unmanageable horse, 
received a very severe contusion upon the head, which 
rendered him insensible at once ; the skull was slightly 
fractured, but no immediate danger was apprehended. 
Trepanning was accomplished successfully. He was bled, 
and many other of the ordinary means of relief were 
adopted. Gradually, however, he fell into a more and 
more hopeless state of stupor, and, finally, it was thought 
that he died. 

The weather was warm, and he was buried with inde- 
cent haste in one of the public cemeteries. His funeral 
took place on Thursday. On the Sunday following, the 



49° THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

grounds of the cemetery were, as usual, much thronged 
with visitors, and about noon an intense excitement was 
created by the declaration of a peasant that, while sitting 
upon the grave of the officer, he had distinctly felt a 
commotion of the earth, as if occasioned by some one 
struggling beneath. At first little attention was paid to 
the man's asseveration ; but his evident terror, and the 
dogged obstinacy with which he persisted in his story, had 
at length their natural effect upon the crowd. Spades 
were hurriedly procured, and the grave, which was shame- 
fully shallow, was in a few minutes so far thrown open 
that the head of its occupant appeared. He was then 
seemingly dead ;'but he sat nearly erect within his coffin, 
the lid of which, in his furious struggles, he had partially 
uplifted. 

He was forthwith conveyed to the nearest hospital, and 
there pronounced to be still living, although in an asphy- 
tic condition. After some hours he revived, recognized 
individuals of his acquaintance, and, in broken sentences 
spoke of his agonies in the grave. 

From what he related, it was clear that he must have 
been conscious of life for more than an hour, while in- 
humed, before lapsing into insensibility. The grave was 
carelessly and loosely filled with an exceedingly porous 
soil ; and thus some air was necessarily admitted. He 
heard the footsteps of the crowd overhead, and endeav- 
ored to make himself heard in turn. It was the tumult 
within the grounds of the cemetery, he said, which appeared 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 4gl 

to awaken him from a deep sleep, but no sooner was he 
awake than he became fully aware of the awful horrors of 
his position. 

This patient, it is recorded, was doing well, and seemed 
to be in a fair way of ultimate recover}', but fell a victim 
to the quackeries of medical experiment. The galvanic 
battery was applied, and he suddenly expired in one of 
those ecstatic paroxysms which, occasionally, it superin- 
duces. 

The mention of the galvanic battery, nevertheless, 
recalls to my memory a well-known and very extraordi- 
nary case in point, where its action proved the means of 
restoring to animation a young attorney of London, who 
had been interred for two days. This occurred in 1831, 
and created, at the time, a very profound sensation wher- 
ever it was made the subject of converse. 

The patient, Mr. Edward Stapleton, had died, appar- 
ently, of typhus fever, accompanied with some anomalous 
symptoms which had excited the curiosity of his medical 
attendants. Upon his seeming decease, his friends were 
requested to sanction a post-mortem examination, but 
declined to permit it. As often happens, when such 
refusals are made, the practitioners resolved to disinter 
the body and dissect it at leisure, in private. Arrange- 
ments were easily effected with some of the -numerous 
corps of body-snatchers with which London abounds; 
and, upon the third night after the funeral, the supposed 
corpse was unearthed from a grave eight feet deep, and 



49 2 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

deposited in the operating chamber of one of the private 
hospitals. 

An incision of some extent had been actually made in 
the abdomen, when the fresh and undecayed appearance 
of the subject suggested an application of the battery. 
One experiment succeeded another, and the customary 
effects supervened, with nothing to characterize them in 
any respect, except, upon one or two occasions, a more than 
ordinary degree of life-likeness in the convulsive action. 

It grew late. The day was about to dawn ; and it was 
thought expedient, at length, to proceed at once to the 
dissection. A student, however, was especially desirous 
of testing a theory of his own, and insisted upon applying 
the battery to one of the pectoral muscles. A rough gash 
was made, and a wire hastily brought in contact ; when 
the patient, with a hurried but quite unconvulsive move- 
ment, arose from the table, stepped into the middle of the 
floor, gazed about him uneasily for a few seconds, and 
then — spoke. What he said was unintelligible ; but words 
were uttered ; the syllabification was distinct. Having 
spoken, he fell heavily to the floor. 

For some moments all were paralyzed with awe — but 
the urgency of the case soon restored them their presence 
of mind. It was seen that Mr. Stapleton was alive, 
although in a swoon. Upon exhibition of ether he 
revived and was rapidly restored to health, and to the 
society of his friends — from whom, however, all knowledge 
of his resuscitation was withheld, until a relapse was no 



TEE PREMATURE BURIAL. 493 

longer to be apprehended. Their wonder— their raptu- 
rous astonishment — may be conceived. 

The most thrilling peculiarity of this incident, neverthe- 
less, is involved in what Mr. S. himself asserts. He 
declares that at no period was he altogether insensible— 
that, dully and confusedly, he was aware of everything 
which happened to him, from the moment in which he 
was pronounced dead by his physicians, to that in which 
he fell swooning to the floor of the hospital. " I am 
alive," were the uncomprehended words which, upon 
recognizing the locality of the dissecting-room, he had 
endeavored, in his extremity, to utter. 

It were an easy matter to multiply such histories as 
these — but I forbear — for, indeed, we have no need of 
such to establish the fact that premature interments occur. 
When we reflect how very rarely, from the nature of the 
case, we have it in our power to detect them, we must 
admit that they may frequently occur without our cogni- 
zance. Scarcely, in truth, is a graveyard ever encroached 
upon, for any purpose, to any great extent, that skeletons 
are not found in postures which suggest the most fearful 
of suspicions. 

Fearful indeed the suspicion — but more fearful the 
doom ! It may be asserted, without hesitation, that no 
event is so terribly well adapted to inspire the supreme- 
ness of bodily and of mental distress, as is burial before 
death. The unendurable oppression of the lungs — the 
stifling fumes of the damp earth— the clinging to the 



494 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

death garments — the rigid embrace of the narrow house — 
the blackness of the absolute Night — the silence like a 
sea that overwhelms — the unseen but palpable presence 
of the Conqueror Worm — these things, with the thoughts 
of the air and grass above, with memory of dear friends 
who would fly to save us if but informed of our fate, and 
with consciousness that of this fate they can never be in- 
formed — that our hopeless portion is that of the really 
dead — these considerations, I say, carry into the heart, 
which still palpitates, a degree of appalling and intolerable 
horror from which the most daring imagination must 
recoil. We know of nothing so agonizing upon Earth — we 
can dream of nothing half so hideous in the realms of the 
nethermost Hell. And thus all narratives upon this topic 
have an interest profound ; an interest, nevertheless, 
which, through the sacred awe of the topic itself, very 
properly and very peculiarly depends upon our conviction 
of the truth of the matter narrated. What I have now to 
tell is of my own actual knowledge — of my own positive 
and personal experience. 

For several years I had been subject to attacks of the 
singular disorder which physicians have agreed to term 
catalepsy, in default of a more definitive title. Although 
both the immediate and the predisposing causes, and even 
the actual diagnosis, of this disease are still mysterious, its 
obvious and apparent character is sufficiently well under- 
stood. Its variations seem to be chiefly of degree. Some- 
times the patient lies, for a day only, or even for a shorter 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 495 

period, in a species of exaggerated lethargy. He is sense- 
less and externally motionless ; but the pulsation of the 
heart is still faintly perceptible ; some traces of warmth 
remain ; a slight color lingers within the centre of the 
cheek ; and, upon application of a mirror to the lips, we 
can detect a torpid, unequal, and vacillating action of 
the lungs. Then again the duration of the trance is for 
weeks — even for months ; while the closest scrutiny, and 
the most rigorous medical tests, fail to establish any ma- 
terial distinction between the state of the sufferer and 
what we conceive of absolute death. Very usually he is 
saved from premature interment solely by the knowledge 
of his friends that he has been previously subject to cata- 
lepsy, by the consequent suspicion excited, and, above 
all, by the non-appearance of decay. The advances of the 
malady are, luckily, gradual. The first manifestations, 
although marked, are unequivocal, The fits grow suc- 
cessively more and more distinctive, and endure each for 
a longer term than the preceding. In this lies the prin- 
cipal security from inhumation. The unfortunate whose 
first attack should be of the extreme character which is 
occasionally seen, would almost inevitably be consigned 
alive to the tomb. 

My own case differed in no important particular from 
those mentioned in medical books. Sometimes, without 
any apparent cause, I sank, little by little, into a condition 
of semi-syncope, or half swoon ; and, in this condition, 
without pain, without ability to stir, or, strictly speaking, 



49^ THE PREMATURE BURIAL, 

to think, but with a dull lethargic consciousness of life 
and of the presence of those who surrounded my bed, I 
remained, until the crisis of the disease restored me, sud- 
denly, to perfect sensation. At other times I was quickly 
and impetuously smitten. I grew sick, and numb, and 
chilly, and dizzy, and so fell prostrate at once. Then, for 
weeks, all was void, and black, and silent, and Nothing 
became the universe. Total annihilation could be no 
more. From these latter attacks I awoke, however, with 
a gradation slow in proportion to the suddenness of the 
seizure. Just as the day dawns to the friendless and 
houseless beggar who roams the streets throughout the 
long desolate winter night — just so tardily — just so wearily 
— just so cheerily came back the light of the Soul to me. 

Apart from the tendency to trance, however, my gen- 
eral health appeared to be good ; nor could I perceive 
that it was at all affected by the one prevalent malady — 
unless, indeed, an idiosyncrasy in my ordinary sleep may 
be looked upon as superinduced. Upon awaking from 
slumber, I could never gain, at once, thorough possession 
of my senses, and always remained, for many minutes, in 
much bewilderment and perplexity — the mental faculties 
in general, but the memory in especial, being in a condi- 
tion of absolute abeyance. 

In all that I endured there was no physical suffering, 
but of moral distress an infinitude. My fancy grew char- 
nel. I talked "of worms, of tombs, and epitaphs." I was 
lost in reveries of death, and the idea of premature burial 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 497 

held continual possession of my brain. The ghastly Dan- 
ger to which I was subjected haunted me day and night. 
In the former, the torture of meditation was excessive ; 
in the latter, supreme. When the grim Darkness over' 
spread the Earth, then, with every horror of thought, I 
shook— shook as the quivering plumes upon the hearse. 
When Nature could endure wakefulness no longer, it was 
with a struggle that I consented to sleep— for I shuddered 
to reflect that, upon awaking," I might find myself the 
tenant of a grave. And when, finally, I sank into slum- 
ber, it was only to rush at once into a world of phantasms, 
above which, with vast, sable, overshadowing wings, hov- 
ered, predominant, the one sepulchral Idea. 

From the innumerable images of gloom which thus op- 
pressed me in dreams, I select for record but a solitary 
vison. Methought I was immersed in a cataleptic trance 
of more than usual duration and profundity. Suddenly 
there came an icy hand upon my forehead, and an impa- 
tient, gibbering voice whispered the word " Arise ! " with- 
in my ear. 

I sat erect. The darkness was total. I could not see 
the figure of him who had aroused me. I could call to 
mind neither the period at which I had fallen into the 
trance, nor the locality in which I then lay. While I re- 
mained motionless, and busied in endeavors to collect my 
thoughts, the cold hand grasped me fiercely by the wrist, 
shaking it petulantly, while the gibbering voice said 
again : 



49 8 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

" Arise ! did I not bid thee arise ? " 

" And who," I demanded, " art thou ? " 

"I have no name in the regions which I inhabit," re- 
plied the voice, mournfully ; " I was mortal, but am fiend. 
I was merciless, but am pitiful. Thou dost feel that I 
shudder. My teeth chatter as I speak, yet it is not with 
the chilliness of the night — of the night without end. 
But this hideousness is insufferable. How canst thou 
tranquilly sleep ? I cannot rest for the cry of these great 
agonies. These sights are more than I can bear. Get 
thee up ! Come with me into the outer Night, and let 
me unfold to thee the graves. Is not this a spectacle oi 
woe ? — Behold ! " 

I looked ; and the unseen figure, which still grasped me 
by the wrist, had caused to be thrown open the graves ol 
all mankind ; and from each issued the faint phosphoric 
radiance of decay ; so that I could see into the innermost 
recesses, and there view the shrouded bodies in their sa( 
and solemn slumbers with the worm. But alas ! the real 
sleepers were fewer, by many millions, than those who slum- 
bered not at all ; and there was a feeble struggling ; and 
there was a general and sad unrest ; and from out the 
depths of the countless pits there came a melancholy 
rustling from the garments of the buried. And of those 
who seemed tranquilly to repose, I saw that a vast num- 
ber had changed, in a greater or less degree, the rigid and 
uneasy position in which they had originally been en- 
tombed. And the voice again said to me as I gazed : 






THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 499 

11 Is it not— oh ! is it not a pitiful sight ? " But, before 
I could find words to reply, the figure had ceased to grasp 
my wrist, the phosphoric lights expired, and the graves 
were closed with a sudden violence, while from out them 
arose a tumult of despairing cries, saying again: " Is it not 
— O, God ! is it not a very pitiful sight ? " 

Phantasies such as these, presenting themselves at 
night, extended their terrific influence far into my waking 
hours. My nerves became thoroughly unstrung, and I fell 
a prey to perpetual horror. I hesitated to ride, or to walk, 
or to indulge in any exercise that would carry me from 
home. In fact, I no longer dared trust myself out of the 
immediate presence of those who were aware of my prone- 
ness to catalepsy, lest, falling into one of my usual fits, I 
should be buried before my real condition could be ascer- 
tained. I doubted the care, the fidelity of my dearest 
friends. I dreaded that, in some trance of more than 
customary duration, they might be prevailed upon to re- 
gard me as irrecoverable. I even went so far as to fear 
that, as I occasioned much trouble, they might be glad to 
consider any very protracted attack as sufficient excuse 
for getting rid of me altogether. It was in vain they en- 
deavored to reassure me by the most solemn promises. 
I exacted the most sacred oaths, that under no circum- 
stances they would bury me until decomposition had so 
materially advanced as to render further preservation im- 
possible. And, even then, my mortal terrors would listen 
to no reason— would accept no consolation. I entered 



500 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

into a series of elaborate precautions. Among other 
things, I had the family vault so remodelled as to admit 
of being readily opened from within. The slightest pres- 
sure upon a long lever that extended far into the tomb 
would cause the iron portals to fly back. There were ar- 
rangements also for the free admission of air and light, 
and convenient receptacles for food and water, within 
immediate reach of the coffin intended for my reception. 
This coffin was warmly and softly padded, and was pro- 
vided with a lid, fashioned upon the principle of the 
vault-door, with the addition of springs so contrived that 
the feeblest movement of the body would be sufficient to 
set it at liberty. Besides all this, there was suspended 
from the roof of the tomb, a large bell, the rope of which, 
it was designed, should extend through a hole in the 
coffin, and so be fastened to one of the hands of the 
corpse. But, alas ! what avails the vigilance against the 
Destiny of man ? Not even these well-contrived securi- 
ties sufficed to save from the uttermost agonies of living 
inhumation, a wretch to these agonies foredoomed ! 

There arrived an epoch — as often before there had 
arrived — in which I found myself emerging from total un- 
consciousness into the first feeble and indefinite sense of 
existence. Slowly — with a tortoise gradation — ap- 
proached the faint gray dawn of the psychal day. A 
torpid uneasiness. An apathetic endurance of dull pain. 
No care — no hope — no effort. Then, after a long interval, 
a ringing in the ears ; then, after a lapse still longer, 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 501 

a pricking or tingling sensation in the extremities ; then a 
seemingly eternal period of pleasurable quiescence, during 
which the awakening feelings are struggling into thought ; 
then a brief re-sinking into nonentity; then a sudden 
recovery. At length the slight quivering of an eyelid, 
and immediately thereupon, an electric shock of a terror, 
deadly and indefinite, which sends the blood in torrents 
from the temples to the heart. And now the first positive 
effort to think. And now the first endeavor to remember. 
And now a partial and evanescent success. And now the 
memory has so far regained its dominion, that, in some 
measure, I am cognizant of my state. I feel that I am 
not awaking from ordinary sleep. I recollect that I have 
been subject to catalepsy. And now, at last, as if by 
the rush of an ocean, my shuddering spirit is overwhelmed 
by the one grim Danger — by the one spectral and ever- 
prevalent idea. 

For some minutes after this fancy possessed me, I re- 
mained without motion. And why ? I could not sum- 
mon courage to move. I dared not make the effort which 
was to satisfy me of my fate — and yet there was some- 
thing at my heart which whispered me it was sure. De- 
spair — such as no other species of wretchedness ever calls 
into being — despair alone urged me, after long irresolu- 
tion, to uplift the heavy lids of my eyes. I uplifted 
them. It was dark— all dark. I knew that the fit was 
over. I knew that the crisis of my disorder had long 
passed. I knew that I had now fully recovered the 



5° 2 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

use of my visual faculties — and yet it was dark — all dark — 
the intense and utter raylessness of the Night that endur- 
eth for evermore. 

I endeavored to shriek; and my lips and my parched 
tongue moved convulsively together in the attempt — but 
no voice issued from the cavernous lungs, which, oppressed 
as if by the weight of some incumbent mountain, gasped 
and palpitated, with the heart, at every elaborate and 
struggling inspiration. 

The movement of the jaws, in this effort to cry aloud, 
showed me that they were bound up, as is usual with the 
dead. I felt, too, that I lay upon some hard substance ; 
and by something similar my sides were, also, closely com- 
pressed. So far, I had not ventured to stir any of my 
limbs — but now I violently threw up my arms, which had 
been lying at length, with the wrists crossed. They struck 
a solid wooden substance, which extended above my per- 
son at an elevation of not more than six inches from 
my face. I could no longer doubt that I reposed within a 
coffin at last. 

And now, amid all my infinite miseries, came sweetly 
the cherub Hope — for I thought of my precautions. I 
writhed, and made spasmodic exertions to force open 
the lid : it would not move. I felt my wrists for the 
bell-rope : it was not to be found. And now the Com- 
forter fled for ever, and a still sterner Despair reigned 
triumphant ; for I could not help perceiving the absence 
of the paddings which I had so carefully prepared — and 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL, 503 

then, too, there came suddenly to my nostrils the strong 
peculiar odor of moist earth. The conclusion was irre- 
sistible. I was not within the vault. I had fallen into a 
trance while absent from home— while among strangers— 
when, or how, I could not remember— and it was they 
who had buried me as a dog— nailed up in some common 
coffin— and thrust, deep, deep, and for ever, into some 
ordinary and nameless grave. 

As this awful conviction forced itself, thus, into the 
innermost chambers of my soul, I once again struggled to 
cry aloud. And in this second endeavor I succeeded. A 
long, wild, and continuous shriek, or yell, of agony, 
resounded through the realms of the subterranian Night. 

" Hillo ! hillo, there ! " said a gruff voice, in reply. 

* What the devil 's the matter now ! " said a second. 

" Get out o' that ! " said a third. 

"What do you mean by yowling in that ere kind of 
style, like a cattymount?" said a fourth; and hereupon I 
was seized and shaken without ceremony, for several 
minutes, by a junto of very rough-looking individuals. 
They did not arouse me from my slumber — for I was 
wide-awake when I screamed — but they restored me to 
the full possession of my memory. 

This adventure occurred near Richmond, in Virginia. 
Accompanied by a friend, I had proceeded, upon a gun- 
ning expedition, some miles down the banks of the James 
River. Night approached, and we were overtaken by a 
storm. The cabin of a small sloop lying at anchor in the 



504 THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 

stream, and laden with garden mould, afforded us the 
only available shelter. We made the best of it, and 
passed the night on board. I slept in one of the only 
two berths in the vessel — and the berths of a sloop of 
sixty or seventy tons need scarcely be described. That 
which I occupied had no bedding of any kind. Its ex- 
treme width was eighteen inches. The distance of its 
bottom from the deck overhead was precisely the same. 
I found it a matter of exceeding difficulty to squeeze my- 
self in. Nevertheless, I slept soundly ; and the whole of 
my vision — for it was no dream, and no nightmare — arose 
naturally from the circumstances of my position — from 
my ordinary bias of thought — and from the difficulty, to 
which I have alluded, of collecting my senses, and espe- 
cially of regaining my memory, for a long time after 
awaking from slumber. The men who shook me were 
the crew of the sloop, and some laborers engaged to 
unload it. From the load itself came the earthy smell. 
The bandage about the jaws was a silk handkerchief in 
which I had bound up my head, in default of my custom- 
ary nightcap. 

The tortures endured, however, were indubitably quite 
equal, for the time, to those of actual sepulture. They 
were fearfully — they were inconceivably hideous ; but out 
of Evil proceeded Good ; for their very excess wrought in 
my spirit an inevitable revulsion. My soul acquired tone 
— acquired temper. I went abroad. I took vigorous exer- 
cise. I breathed the free air of Heaven. I thought upon 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL. 505 

other subjects than Death. I discarded my medical 
books. " Buchan " I burned. I read no " Night 
Thoughts" — no fustian about church-yards — no bugaboo 
tales — such as this. In short I became a new man, and 
lived a man's life. From that memorable night, I dis- 
missed forever my charnel apprehensions, and with them 
vanished the cataleptic disorder, of which, perhaps, they 
had been less the consequence than the cause. 

There are moments when, even to the sober eye of 
Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume the 
semblance of a Hell — but the imagination of man is no 
Carathis, to explore with impunity its every cavern. 
Alas ! the grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be 
regarded as altogether fanciful — but, like the Demons in 
whose company Afrasiab made his voyage down the 
Oxus, they must sleep, or they will devour us — they 
must be suffered to slumber, or we perish. 





THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 



THE " Red Death " had long devastated the country. 
No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hide- 
ous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal — the redness and 
the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden 
dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with 
dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and 
especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban 
which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy 
of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress, and 
termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an 
hour. 

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and 
sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, 
he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light- 
hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his 
court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one 
of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and 
magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own 
eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled 
it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having 

506 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 507 

entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded 
the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of 
ingress nor egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of 
frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. 
With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to 
contagion. The external world could take care of itself. 
In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The 
prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There 
were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet- 
dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there 
was wine. All these and security were within. Without 
was the " Red Death." 

It was toward the. close of the fifth or sixth month of 
his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furi- 
ously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his 
thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual mag- 
nificence. 

It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. But first 
let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were 
seven — an imperial suite. In many palaces, however, such 
suites form a long and straight vista, while the folding 
doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand, so 
that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded. 
Here the case was very different ; as might have been ex- 
pected from the duke's love of the bizarre. The apart- 
ments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced 
but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp 
turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a 






508 THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 

novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each 
wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a 
closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. 
These windows were of stained glass whose color varied 
in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations 
of the chamber into which it opened. That at the easten 
extremity was hung, for example in blue — and vividb 
bkie were its windows. The second chamber was purph 
in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were 
purple. The third was green throughout, and so wen 
the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighte< 
with orange — the fifth with white — the sixth with violet. 
The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in blacl 
velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and dowi 
the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the sam< 
material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of 
the windows failed to correspond with the decorations 
The panes here were scarlet — a deep blood color. No^ 
in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp 01 
candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments 
that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. 
There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp 01 
candle within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors 
that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to eacl 
window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire, that 
projected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringh 
illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitud< 
of gaudy and fantastic appearances. But in the westen 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 509 

or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed 
upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes 
was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look 
upon the countenances of those who entered, that there 
were few of the company bold enough to set foot within 
its precincts at all. 

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against 
the western wall, a gigantic clock of jbony. Its pendu- 
lum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous 
clang ; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the 
face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from 
the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and 
loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar 
a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the 
musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, 
momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the 
sound ; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolu- 
tions ; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay 
company ; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it 
was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more 
aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if 
in confused revery or meditation. But when the echoes 
had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the 
assembly ; the musicians looked at each other and smiled 
as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whis- 
pering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of 
the clock should produce in them no similar emotion ; 
and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes (which embrace 



5IO THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 

three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that 
flies), there came yet another chiming of the clock, and 
then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and 
meditation as before. 

But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnifi- 
cent revel. The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He 
had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the 
decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, 
and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There 
are some who would have thought him mad. His fol- 
lowers felt that he was not. It was necessary to hear and 
see and touch him to be sure that he was not. 

He had directed, in great part, the movable embellish- 
ments of the seven chambers, upon occasion of this great 
fete ; and it was his own guiding taste which had given 
character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were gro- 
tesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy 
and phantasm — much of what has been since seen in 
" Hernani." There were arabesque figures with unsuited 
limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies 
such as the madman fashions. There were much of the 
beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, some- 
thing of the terrible, and not a little of that which might 
have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers 
there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these 
— the dreams — writhed in and about, taking hue from the 
rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to 
seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes 






THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 5H 

the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. 
And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save 
the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as 
they stand. But the echoes of the chime die away— they 
have endured but an instant— and a light, half-subdued 
laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again 
the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and 
fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many- 
tinted windows through which stream the rays from the 
tripods. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly 
of the seven there are now none of the maskers who ven- 
ture ; for the night is waning away ; and there flows a 
ruddier light through the blood-colored panes ; and the 
blackness of the sable drapery appals ; and to him whose 
foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near 
clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic 
than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the 
more remote gaieties of the other apartments. 

But these other apartments were densely crowded, and 
in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel 
went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the 
sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the 
music ceased, as I have told ; and the evolutions of the 
waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of 
all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes 
to be sounded by the bell of the clock ; and thus it hap- 
pened, perhaps that more of thought crept, with more of 
time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those 



512 THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 

who revelled. And thus too, it happened, perhaps, that 
before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk 
into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd 
who had found leisure to become aware of the presence 
of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no 
single individual before. And the rumor of this new 
presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there 
arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or mur- 
mur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise — then, 
finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust. 

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it 
may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could 
have excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade 
license of the night was nearly unlimited ; but the figure 
in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond 
the bounds of even the prince's indefinite decorum. There 
are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot 
be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, 
to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters 
of which no jest can be made. The whole company, 
indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume 
and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety 
existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded 
from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The 
mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to 
resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the 
closest scrutiny must have had dffficulty in detecting the 
cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 513 

approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mum- 
mer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red 
Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood— and his broad 
brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled 
with the scarlet horror. 

When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spec- 
tral image (which, with a slow and solemn movement, as 
if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among 
the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first 
moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste ; 
but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage. 

" Who dares " — he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers 
who stood near him — " who dares insult us with this 
blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him— 
that we may know whom we have to hang, at sunrise, from 
the battlements !" 

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood 
the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. They 
rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly, for 
the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had 
become hushed at the waving of his hand. 

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a 
group of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, 
there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the 
direction of the intruder, who, at the moment was also 
near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, 
made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain 
nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the 



514 THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 

mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found 
none who put forth hand to seize him ; so that, unim- 
peded, he passed within a yard of the prince's person ; 
and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, 
shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he 
made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn 
and measured step which had distinguished him from the 
first, through the blue chamber to the purple — through 
the purple to the green — through the green to the orange 
— through this again to the white — and even thence to 
the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to 
arrest him. It was then, however, that the Prince Pros- 
pero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own 
momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six 
chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly 
terror that had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn 
dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to 
within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the 
latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apart- 
ment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There 
was a sharp cry — and the dagger dropped gleaming upon 
the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterward, fell 
prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summon- 
ing the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers 
at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, 
seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and 
motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped 
in unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements and 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. 515 

corpse-like mask, which they handled with so violent a 
rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form. 

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red 
Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one 
by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls 
of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of 
his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with 
that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods 
expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death 
held illimitable dominion over all. 





THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 



THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne 
as I best could ; but when he ventured upon 
insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the 
nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave 
utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged ; this 
was a point definitively settled — but the very definitive- 
ness with which it was resolved, precluded the idea of risk. 
I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A 
wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its re- 
dresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails 
to make himself felt as such to him who has done the 
wrong. 

It must be understood, that neither by word nor deed 
had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good-will. I 
continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he 
did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of 
his immolation. 

He had a weak point — this Fortunato — although in 
other regards he was a man to be respected and even 
feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. 

516 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 517 

Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most 
part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and op- 
portunity—to practise imposture upon the British and 
Austrian millionnaires. In painting and gemmary Fortu- 
nato, like his countrymen, was a quack — but in the matter 
of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not 
differ from him materially: I was skilful in the Italian 
vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could. 

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme 
madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my 
friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he 
had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He 
had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was 
surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so 
pleased to see him, that I thought I should never have 
done wringing his hand. 

I said to him : " My dear Fortunato, you are luckily 
met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day ! 
But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontil- 
lado, and I have my doubts/' 

^ How ? " said he. " Amontillado ? A pipe ? Impos- 
sible ! And in the middle of the carnival ! "' 

"I have my doubts," I replied; "and I was silly 
enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consult- 
ing you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I 
was fearful of losing a bargain." 

" Amontillado ! " 

" I have my doubts." 



518 THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 

" Amontillado ! " 

" And I must satisfy them." 

"Amontillado ! " 

" As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If 
any one has a critical turn, it is he. He will tell me " 

" Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry." 

" And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a 
match for your own." 

" Come, let us go." 

"Whither?" 

" To your vaults." 

" My friend, no ; I will not impose upon your 
good nature. I perceive you have an engagement 
Luchesi " 

" I have no engagement ; — come." 

" My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the 
severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The 
vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with 
nitre." 

" Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. 
Amontillado ! You have been imposed upon. And as 
for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amon- 
tillado." 

Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm. 
Putting on a mask of black silk, and drawing a roquelaire 
closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to 
my palazzo. 

There were no attendants at home ; they had absconded 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 519 

to make merry in honor of the time. I had told them 
that I should not return until the morning, and had given 
them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These 
orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their im- 
mediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back 
was turned. 

I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving 
one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of 
rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed 
down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be 
cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot 
of the descent, and stood together on the damp ground 
of the catacombs of the Montresors. 

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon 
his cap jingled as he strode. 

" The pipe ? " said he. 

" It is farther on," said I ; " but observe the white web- 
work which gleams from these cavern walls." 

He turned toward me, and looked into my eyes with 
two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication. 

" Nitre ? " he asked, at length. 

" Nitre," I replied. " How long have you had that 
cough ? " 

" Ugh ! ugh ! ugh !— ugh ! ugh ! ugh !— ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! 
— ugh ! ugh ! ugh !— ugh ! ugh ! ugh 1 " 

My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many 
minutes. 

" It is nothing," he said, at last. 



520 THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 

" Come/' I said, with decision, "we will go back; your 
health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, 
beloved ; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man 
to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back ; 
you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, 
there is Luchesi " 

" Enough," he said ; " the cough is a mere nothing ; it 
will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough." 

" True — true," I replied ; " and, indeed, I had no inten- 
tion of alarming you unnecessarily ; but you should use 
all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend 
us from the damps." 

Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew 
from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould. 

" Drink," I said, presenting him the wine. 

He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and 
nodded to me familiarly, while his be^lsjiiigled. 

" I drink," he said, " to the buried that repose around 
us." 

" And I to your long life." 

He again took my arm, and we proceeded. 

" These vaults," he said, " are extensive." 

" The Montresors," I replied, " were a great and nu- 
merous family." 

" I forget your arms." 

"A huge human foot d' or, in a field azure; the foot 
crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in 
the heel." 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 52 1 

" And the motto ? " 

u Nemo me impune lacessit" 

" Good ! " he said. 

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. 
My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had 
passed through walls of piled bones, with casks and 
puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the 
catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to 
seize Fortunato by an arm above the elbow. 

" The nitre ! " I said ; " see, it increases. It hangs like 
moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. 
The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, 
we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough " 

" It is nothing," he said ; " let us go on. But first, an- 
other draught of the Medoc." 

I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He 
emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce 
light. He laughed and threw the bottle upward with a 
gesticulation I did not understand. 

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the move- 
ment — a grotesque one. 

" You do not comprehend ? " he said. 

" Not I," I replied. 

" Then you are not of the brotherhood." 

"How?" 

" You are not of the masons." 

" Yes, yes," I said ; "yes, yes." 

" You ? Impossible ! A mason ? " 



522 THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 

" A mason," I replied. 

" A sign," he said. 

" It is this," I answered, producing a trowel from 
beneath the folds of my roquelaire. 

" You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. " But 
let us proceed to the Amontillado." 

" Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the 
cloak, and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon 
it heavily. We continued our route in search of the 
Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, 
descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a 
deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our 
flambeaux rather to glow than flame. 

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared an- 
other less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human 
remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of 
the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior 
crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the 
fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promis- 
cuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of 
some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the dis- 
placing of the bones, we perceived a still interior recess, 
in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six 
or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no 
especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval 
between two of the colossal supports of the roof of 
the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circum- 
scribing walls of solid granite. 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 523 

It was in vain that Fortunate, uplifting his dull torch, 
endeavored to pry into the depth of the recess. Its 
I termination the feeble light did not enable us to see. 

"Proceed," I said; -herein is the Amontillado. As 
for Luchesi " 

" He is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he 
stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately 
at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity 
of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the 
rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I 
had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two 
iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, 
horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, 
from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his 
waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure 
it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing 
the key I stepped back from the recess. 

" Pass your hand," I said, " over the wall ; you cannot 
help feeling the nitre. Indeed it is very damp. Once 
more let me implore you to return. No ? Then I must 
positively leave you. But I must first render you all the 
little attentions in my power." 

" The Amontillado ! " ejaculated my friend, not yet re- 
covered from his astonishment. 

" True," I replied ; " the Amontillado." 

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile 
of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them 
aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and 



5 2 4 THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 

mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my 
trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the 
niche. 

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I 
discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a 
great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of 
this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. 
It was not the cry of a drunken man. There was then a 
long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and 
the third, and the fourth ; and then I heard the furious 
vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several 
minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with 
the more satisfaction, I ceased my labors and sat down 
upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I 
resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the 
fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now 
nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and 
holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few 
feeble rays upon the figure within. 

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting sud- 
denly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to 
thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesi- 
tated — I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to 
grope with it about the recess ; but the thought of an 
instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid 
fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached 
the wall. I replied to the yells of him who clamored. I 
re-echoed — I aided — I surpassed them in volume and 
in strength. I did this, and the clamorer grew still. 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 525 

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a 
close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth, and the 
tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the 
eleventh ; there remained but a single stone to be fitted 
and plastered in. I struggled with its weight ; I placed it 
partially in its destined position. But now there came 
from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs 
upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which 
I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble For- 
tunato. The voice said — 

"Ha! ha ! ha ! — he ! he ! — a very good joke indeed — 
an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about 
it at the palazzo — he ! he ! he ! — over our wine — he ! he ! 
he!" 

" The Amontillado ! " I said. 

" He ! he ! he ! — he ! he ! he ! — yes, the Amontillado. 
But is it not getting late ? Will not they be awaiting us 
at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest ? Let 
us be gone." 

" Yes," I said, " let us be gone." 

" For the love of God, Montr esor ! " 

" Yes," I said, " for the love of God ! " 

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I 
grew impatient. I called aloud ; 

" Fortunato ! " 

No answer. I called again ; 

" Fortunato ! " 

No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remain- 



526 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. 



ing aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in 
return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick — 
on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened 
to make an end of my labor. I forced the last stone into 
its position ; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry 
I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of 
a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace re- 
quiescat / 




THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 



IN the consideration of the faculties and impulses— of 
the prima mobilia of the human soul, the phrenolo- 
gists have failed to make room for a propensity which, 
although obviously existing as a radical, primitive, irre- 
ducible sentiment, has been equally overlooked by all the 
moralists who have preceded them. In the pure arro- 
gance of the reason, we have all overlooked it. We have 
suffered its existence to escape our senses, solely through 
want of belief — of faith ; — whether it be faith in Revela- 
tion, or faith in the Kabbala. The idea of it has never oc- 
curred to us, simply because of its supererogation. We saw 
no need of the impulse — for the propensity. We could not 
perceive its necessity. We could not understand, that is 
to say, we could not have understood, had the notion of 
this primum mobile ever obtruded itself ; — we could not 
have understood in what manner it might be made to 
further the objects of humanity, either temporal or eter- 
nal. It cannot be denied that phrenology and, in great 
measure, all metaphysicianism have been concocted a 
priori. The intellectual or logical man, rather than the 

527 



528 THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 

understanding or observant man, set himself to imagine 
designs — to dictate purposes to God. Having thus 
fathomed, to his satisfaction, the intentions of Jehovah, 
out of these intentions he built his innumerable systems 
of mind. In the matter of phrenology, for example, we 
first determined, naturally enough, that it was the design 
of the Deity that man should eat. We then assigned to 
man an organ of alimentiveness, and this organ is the 
scourge with which the Deity compels man, will-I nill-I, 
into eating. Secondly, having settled it to be God's will 
that man should continue his species, we discovered an 
organ of amativeness, forthwith. And so with combative- 
ness, with ideality, with causality, with constructiveness, 
— so, in short, with every organ, whether representing a 
propensity, a moral sentiment, or a faculty of the pure 
intellect. And in these arrangements of the principia of 
human action, the Spurzheimites, whether right or wrong, 
in part, or upon the whole, have but followed, in princi- 
ple, the footsteps of their predecessors ; deducing and 
establishing every thing from the preconceived destiny of 
man, and upon the ground of the objects of his Creator. 
It would have been wiser, it would have been safer, to 
classify (if classify we must) upon the basis of what man 
usually or occasionally did, and was always occasionally 
doing, rather than upon the basis of what we took it for 
granted the Deity intended him to do. If we cannot 
comprehend God in his visible works, how then in his 
inconceivable thoughts, that call the works into being ? 



THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 529 

If we cannot understand him in his objective creatures, 
how then in his substantive moods and phases of 

creation ? 

Induction, a posteriori, would have brought phrenology 
to admit, as an innate and primitive principle of human 
action, a paradoxical something, which we may call per- 
verseness, for want of a more characteristic term. In the 
sense I intend, it is, in fact, a mobile without motive, a 
motive not motivirt. Through its promptings we act 
without comprehensible object ; or, if this shall be under- 
stood as a contradiction in terms, we may so far modify 
the proposition as to say, that through its promptings we 
act, for the reason that we should not. In theory, no 
reason can be more unreasonable ; but, in fact, there is 
none more strong. With certain minds, under certain 
conditions, it becomes absolutely irresistible. I am not 
more certain that I breathe, than that the assurance of 
the wrong or error of any action is often the one un- 
conquerable force which impels us, and alone impels us 
to its prosecution. Nor will this overwhelming tendency 
to do wrong for the wrong's sake, admit of analysis, or 
resolution into ulterior elements. It is a radical, a primi- 
tive impulse — elementary. It will be said, I am aware, 
that when we persist in acts because we feel we 
should not persist in them, our conduct is but a modifica- 
tion of that which ordinarily springs from the combative- 
ness of phrenology. But a glance will show the fallacy of 
this idea. The phrenological combativeness has for its 



530 THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 

essence, the necessity of self-defence. It is our safeguard 
against injury. Its principle regards our well-being ; and 
thus the desire to be well is excited simultaneously with 
its development. It follows, that the desire to be well 
must be excited simultaneously with any principle which 
shall be merely a modification of combativeness, but in 
the case of that something which I term perverseness, the 
desire to be well is not only not aroused, but a strongly 
antagonistical sentiment exists. 

An appeal to one's own heart is, after all, the best reply 
to the sophistry just noticed. No one who trustingly con- 
sults and thoroughly questions his own soul, will be di< 
posed to deny the entire radicalness of the propensity ii 
question. It is not more incomprehensible than distinc- 
tive. There lives no man who at some period has not 
been tormented, for example, by an earnest desire to tan- 
talize a listener by circumlocution. The speaker is aware 
that he displeases ; he has every intention to please ; he is 
usually curt, precise, and clear ; the most laconic and 
luminous language is struggling for utterance upon his 
tongue ; it is only with difficulty that he restrains himself 
from giving it flow ; he dreads and deprecates the anger 
of him whom he addresses ; yet, the thought strikes him, 
that by certain involutions and parentheses this anger may 
be engendered. That single thought is enough. The im- 
pulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to 
an uncontrollable longing, and the longing (to the deep 
regret and mortification of the speaker, and in defiance of 
all consequences) is indulged. 



THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 53J 

We have a task before us which must be speedily per 
formed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay 
The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet- 
tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we 
are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with 
the anticipation of whose glorious result ou- whole' souls 
are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and 
yet we put it off until to-morrow ; and why? There is no 
answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with 
no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and 
with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with 
this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a 
positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. 
This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The 
last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the 
violence of the conflict within us,— of the definite with the 
indefinite — of the substance with the shadow. But, if the 
contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which 
prevails, — we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is 
the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the 
chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. 
It flies — it disappears — we are free. The old energy re- 
turns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late ! 

We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into 
the abyss — we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is 
to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain. 
By slow degrees our sickness and dizziness and horror 
become merged in a cloud of unnamable feeling. By 



532 THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 

gradations, still more imperceptible, this cloud assumes 
shape, as did the vapor from the bottle out of which arose 
the genius in the Arabian Nights. But out of this our 
cloud upon the precipice's edge, there grows into palpa- 
bility, a shape, far more terrible than any genius or any 
demon of a tale, and yet it is but a thought, although a 
fearful one, and one which chills the very marrow of our 
bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. It 
is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during 
the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height. 
And this fall — this rushing annihilation — for the very 
reason that it involves that one most ghastly and loath- 
some of all the most ghastly and loathsome images 
of death and suffering which have ever presented 
themselves to our imagination — for this very cause do 
we now the most vividly desire it. And because our rea- 
son violently deters us from the brink, therefore do we 
the most impetuously approach it. There is no passion 
in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, 
shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a 
plunge. To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at 
thought, is to be inevitably lost ; for reflection but urges 
us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot. If 
there be no friendly arm to check us, or if we fail in a 
sudden effort to prostrate ourselves backward from the 
abyss, we plunge, and are destroyed. 

Examine these and similar actions as we will, we shall 
find them resulting solely from the spirit of the Perverse. 



THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 533 

We perpetrate them merely because we feel that we 
should not. Beyond or behind this there is no intelligi- 
ble principle; and we might, indeed, deem this perversl 
ness a direct instigation of the arch-fiend, were it not 
occasionally known to operate in furtherance of good. 

I have said thus much, that in some measure I may 
answer your question— that I may explain to you why I 
am here— that I may assign to you something that shall 
have at least the faint aspect of a cause for my wearing 
these fetters, and for my tenanting this cell of the con- 
demned. Had I not been thus prolix, you might either 
have misunderstood me altogether, or, with the rabble, 
have fancied me mad. As it is, you will easily perceive 
that I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp 
of the Perverse. 

It is impossible that any deed could have been wrought 
with a more thorough deliberation. For weeks, for 
months, I pondered upon the means of the murder. I 
rejected a thousand schemes, because their accomplish- 
ment involved a chance of detection. At length, in read- 
ing some French memoirs, I found an account of a nearly 
fatal illness that occurred to Madame Pilau, through the 
agency of a candle accidentally poisoned. The idea 
struck my fancy at once. I knew my victim's habit of 
reading in bed. I knew, too, that his apartment was 
narrow and ill-ventilated. But I need not vex you with 
impertinent details. I need not describe the easy artifices 
by which I substituted, in his bed-room candle-stand, a 



534 THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 

wax-light of my own making for the one which I there 
found. The next morning he was discovered dead in his 
bed, and the coroner's verdict was — " Death by the visi- 
tation of God." 

Having inherited his estate, all went well with me for 
years. The idea of detection never once entered my brain. 
Of the remains of the fatal taper I had myself carefully 
disposed. I had left no shadow of a clew by which it 
would be possible to convict, or even to suspect, me of 
the crime. It is inconceivable how rich a sentiment of 
satisfaction arose in my bosom as I reflected upon my 
absolute security. For a very long period of time I was 
accustomed to revel in this sentiment. It afforded me 
more real delight than all the mere wordly advantages 
accruing from my sin. But there arrived at length an 
epoch, from which the pleasurable feeling grew, by 
scarcely perceptible gradations, into a haunting and har- 
assing thought. It harassed because it haunted. I could 
scarcely get rid of it for an instant. It is quite a common 
thing to be thus annoyed with the ringing in our ears, or 
rather in our memories, of the burthen of some ordinary 
song, or some unimpressive snatches from an opera. Nor 
will we be the less tormented if the song in itself be good, 
or the opera air meritorious. In this manner, at last, I 
would perpetually catch myself pondering upon my secu- 
rity, and repeating, in a low under-tone, the phrase, " I 
am safe." 

One day, whilst sauntering along the streets, I arrested 



THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 535 

myself in the act of murmuring, half aloud, these cus- 
tomary syllables. In a fit of petulance, I re-modelled 
them thus : " I am safe — I am safe — yes — if I be not 
fool enough to make open confession ! " 

No sooner had I spoken these words, than I felt an icy 
chill creep to my heart. I had had some experience in 
these fits of perversity (whose nature I have been at some 
trouble to explain), and I remembered well that in no 
instance I had successfully resisted their attacks. And 
now my own casual self-suggestion, that I might possibly 
be fool enough to confess the murder of which I had 
been guilty, confronted me, as if the very ghost of him 
whom I had murdered — and beckoned me on to death. 

At first, I made an effort to shake off this nightmare of 
the soul. I walked vigorously — faster — still faster — at 
length I ran. I felt a maddening desire to shriek aloud. 
Every succeeding wave of thought overwhelmed me with 
new terror, for, alas ! I well, too well, understood that to 
think, in my situation, was to be lost. I still quickened 
my pace. I bounded like a madman through the crowded 
thoroughfares. At length, the populace took the alarm, 
and pursued me. I felt then the consummation of my 
fate. Could I have torn out my tongue, I would have 
done it — but a rough voice resounded in my ears — a 
rougher grasp seized me by the shoulder. I turned — I 
gasped for breath. For a moment I experienced all the 
pangs of suffocation ; I became blind, and deaf, and 
giddy ; and then some invisible fiend, I thought, struck 



536 



THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE. 



me with his broad palm upon the back. The long-impris- 
oned secret burst forth from my soul. 

They say that I spoke with a distinct enunciation, but 
with marked emphasis and passionate hurry, as if in 
dread of interruption before concluding the brief but 
pregnant sentences that consigned me to the hangman 
and to hell. 

Having related all that was necessary for the fullest 
judicial conviction, I fell prostrate in a swoon. 

But why shall I say more? To-day I wear these 
chains, and am here ! To-morrow I shall be fetterless ! — 
but where ? 



^xtf^W^&x*" 




THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 



Nullus enim locus sine genio est. — Servius. 

« " A musique," says Marmontel, in those " Contes 

J j Moraux " * which, in all our translations, we have 

insisted upon calling " Moral Tales/' as if in mockery of 
their spirit — "la musique est le seul des talents qui jouissent 
de lui mime ; tous les autres veulent des temoins." He 
here confounds the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds 
with the capacity for creating them. No more than any 
other talent, is that for music susceptible of complete en- 
joyment, where there is no second party to appreciate its 
exercise. And it is only in common with other talents 
that it produces effects which may be fully enjoyed in 
solitude. The idea which the racoyiteur has either failed 
to entertain clearly, or has sacrificed in its expression to his 
national love of point, is, doubtless, the very tenable one 
that the higher order of music is the most thoroughly es- 
timated when we are exclusively alone. The proposition, 
in this form, will be admitted at once by those who love 

* Moraux is here derived from mceurs, and its meaning is "fashionable ," 
or, more strictly, " of manners." 

537 



53 8 THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 

the lyre for its own sake, and for its spiritual uses. But 
there is one pleasure still within the reach of fallen mor- 
tality — and perhaps only one — which owes even more 
than does music to the accessory sentiment of seclusion. 
I mean the happiness experienced in the contemplation 
of natural scenery. In truth, the man who would behold 
aright the glory of God upon earth must in solitude be- 
hold that glory. To me, at least, the presence — not of 
human life only, but of life in any other form than that 
of the green things which grow upon the soil and are 
voiceless — is a stain upon the landscape — is at war with 
the genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard the 
dark valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that 
silently smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slum- 
bers, and the proud watchful mountains that look down 
upon all, — I love to regard these as themselves but the 
colossal members of one vast animate and sentient whole 
— a whole whose form (that of the sphere) is the most 
perfect and most inclusive of all ; whose path is among 
associate planets ; whose meek handmaiden is the moon , 
whose mediate sovereign is the sun ; whose life is eter- 
nity ; whose thought is that of a God ; whose en- 
joyment is knowledge ; whose destinies are lost in im- 
mensity ; whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our 
own cognizance of the animalcule? which infest the brain 
— a being which we, in consequence, regard as purely inani- 
mate and material, much in the same manner as these 
animalcule? must regard us. 



THE ISLAND OP THE FAY, 539 

Our telescopes, and our mathematical investigations as- 
sure us on every hand— notwithstanding the cant of the 
more ignorant of the priesthood— that space, and there- 
fore that bulk, is an important consideration in the eyes 
of the Almighty. The cycles in which the stars move are 
those best adapted for the evolution, without collision, of 
the greatest possible number of bodies. The forms of 
those bodies are accurately such as, within a given sur- 
face, to include the greatest possible amount of matter ; — 
while the surfaces themselves are so disposed as to ac- 
commodate a denser population than could be accommo- 
dated on the same surfaces otherwise arranged. Nor is it 
any argument against bulk being an object with God, 
that space itself is infinite ; for there may be an infinity 
of matter to fill it. And since we see clearly that the en- 
dowment of matter with vitality is a principle — indeed, as 
far as our judgments extend, the leading principle in the 
operations of Deity, — it is scarcely logical to imagine it 
confined to the regions of the minute, where we daily trace 
it, and not extending to those of the august. As we find 
cycle within cycle without end, — yet all revolving around 
one far-distant centre which is the Godhead, may we not 
analogically suppose in the same manner, life within life, the 
less within the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine ? 
In short, we are madly erring, through self-esteem, in be- 
lieving man, in either his temporal or future destinies, 
to be of more moment in the universe than that vast 
" clod of the valley " which he tills and contemns, and to 



540 THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 

which he denies a soul for no more profound reason than 
that he does not behold it in operation.* 

These fancies, and such as these, have always given to 
my meditations among the mountains and the forests, 
by the rivers and the ocean, a tinge of what the every- 
day world would not fail to term fantastic. My wander- 
ings amid such scenes have been many, and far-searching, 
and often solitary ; and the interest with which I have 
strayed through many a dim, deep valley, or gazed into 
the reflected heaven of many a bright lake, has been an 
interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have 
strayed and gazed alone. What flippant Frenchman f 
was it who said in allusion to the well-known work of 
Zimmerman, that, "la solitude est une belle chose ; mats 
il faut quelqu un pour vous dire que la solitude est 7ine 
belle chose ? " The epigram cannot be gainsaid ; but the 
necessity is a thing that does not exist. 

It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far- 
distant region of mountain locked within mountain, and 
sad rivers and melancholy tarns writhing or sleeping 
within all — that I chanced upon a certain rivulet and 
island. I came upon them suddenly in the leafy June, 
and threw myself upon the turf, beneath the branches of 
an unknown odorous shrub, that I might doze as I con- 
templated the scene. I felt that thus only should I look 
upon it — such was the character of phantasm which it wore. 

* Speaking of the tides, Pomponius Mela, in his treatise " De SildOrbis" 
says ", either the world is a great animal, or " etc. 

\ Balzac — in substance — I do not remember the words. 



THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 54 1 

On all sides — save to the west, where the sun was about 
sinking — arose the verdant walls of the forest. The 
little river which turned sharply in its course, and was 
thus immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no exit 
from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep- 
green foliage of the trees to the east — while in the oppo- 
site quarter (so it appeared to me as I lay at length and 
glanced upward) there poured down noiselessly and con- 
tinuously into the valley, a rich golden and crimson water- 
fall from the sunset fountains of the sky. 

About midway in the short vista which my dreamy 
vision took in, one small circular island, profusely ver- 
dured, reposed upon the bosom of the stream. 

So blended bank and shadow there 
That each seemed pendulous in air — 

so mirror-like was the glassy water, that it was scarcely 
possible to say at what point upon the slope of the emer- 
ald turf its crystal dominion began. 

My position enabled me to include in a single view 
both the eastern and western extremities of the islet, 
and I observed a singularly marked difference in their 
aspects. The latter was all one radiant harem of garden 
beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the eye of the 
slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers. The 
grass was short, springy, sweet-scented, and asphodel- 
interspersed. The trees were lithe, mirthful, erect — 
bright, slender, and graceful, — of Eastern figure and foli- 
age, with bark smooth, glossy, and parti-colored. There 



542 



THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 



seemed a deep sense of life and joy about all ; and al- 
though no airs blew from out the heavens, yet every 
thing had motion through the gentle sweepings to and 
fro of innumerable butterflies, that might have been mis- 
taken for tulips with wings.* 

The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the 
blackest shade. A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful 
gloom here pervaded all things. The trees were dark in 
color, and mournful in form and attitude, wreathing 
themselves into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes that 
conveyed ideas of mortal sorrow and untimely death. 
The grass wore the deep tint of the cypress, and the 
heads of its blades hung droopingly, and hither and 
thither among it were many small unsightly hillocks, 
low and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect 
of graves, but were not ; although over and all about 
them the rue and the rosemary clambered. The shade 
of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and seemed to 
bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the ele- 
ment with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the 
sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly 
from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became ab- 
sorbed by the stream ; while other shadows issued mo- 
mently from the trees, taking the place of their predeces- 
sors thus entombed. 

This idea, having once seized upon my fancy, greatly 
excited it, and I lost myself forthwith in revery. " If 

*Florem putares mare per liquidum sethera. — P. Commire 



THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 543 

ever island were enchanted," said I to myself, " this is it. 
This is the haunt of the few gentle Fays who remain from 
the wreck of the race. Are these green tombs theirs ? 
— or do they yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield 
up their own ? In dying, do they not rather waste away 
mournfully, rendering unto God, little by little, their ex- 
istence, as these trees render up shadow after shadow, 
exhausting their substance unto dissolution ? What the 
wasting tree is to the water that imbibes its shade, grow- 
ing thus blacker by what it preys upon, may not the life 
of the Fay be to the death which engulfs it ? " 

As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank 
rapidly to rest, and eddying currents careered round and 
round the island, bearing upon their bosom large, dazzling, 
white flakes of the bark of the sycamore — flakes which, in 
their multiform positions upon the water, a quick imagi- 
nation might have converted into any thing it pleased, — 
while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of 
one of those very Fays about whom I had been ponder- 
ing made its way slowly into the darkness from out the 
light at the western end of the island. She stood erect 
in a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere 
phantom of an oar. While within the influence of the 
lingering sunbeams, her attitude seemed indicative of joy 
— but sorrow deformed it as she passed within the shade. 
Slowly she glided along, and at length rounded the islet 
and re-entered the region of light. " The revolution 
which has just been made by the Fay," continued I, 



544 THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. 

musingly, " is the cycle of the brief year of her life. She 
has floated through her winter and through her summer. 
She is a year nearer unto death ; for I did not fail to see 
that, as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from 
her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its 
blackness more black." 

And again the boat appeared, and the Fay ; but about 
the attitude of the latter there was more of care and un- 
certainty, and less of elastic joy. She floated again from 
out the light, and into the gloom (which deepened mo- 
mently), and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony 
water, and became absorbed into its blackness. And 
again and again she made the circuit of the island, (while 
the sun rushed down to his slumbers), and at each issuing 
into the light, there was more sorrow about her person, 
while it grew feebler, and far fainter, and more indistinct ; 
and at each passage into the gloom, there fell from her a 
darker shade, which became whelmed in a shadow more 
black. But at length, when the sun had utterly de- 
parted, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her former self, 
went disconsolately with her boat into the region of the 
ebony flood — and that she issued thence at all I cannot 
say, for darkness fell over all things, and I beheld her 
magical figure no more. 



THE OVAL PORTRAIT. 



THE chateau into which my valet had ventured to 
make forcible entrance, rather than permit me, in 
my desperately wounded condition, to pass a night in the 
open air, was one of those piles of commingled gloom 
and grandeur which have so long frowned among the 
Appennines, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Rad- 
cliffe. To all appearance it had been temporarily and 
very lately abandoned. We established ourselves in one 
of the smallest and least sumptuously furnished apart- 
ments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. Its 
decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique. Its walls 
were hung with tapestry and bedecked with manifold and 
multiform armorial trophies, together with an unusually 
great number of very spirited modern paintings in frames 
of rich golden arabesque. In these paintings, which de- 
pended from the walls not only in their main surfaces, but 
in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of the 
chateau rendered necessary — in these paintings my in- 
cipient delirium, perhaps, had caused me to take deep 
interest ; so that I bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters 

545 



54-6 THE OVAL PORTRAIT. 

of the room — since it was already night, — to light the 
tongues of a tall candelabrum which stood by the head 
of my bed, and to throw open far and wide the fringed 
curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed itself. 
I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to 
sleep, at least alternately to the contemplation of these 
pictures, and the perusal of a small volume which had 
been found upon the pillow, and which purported to 
criticise and describe them. 

Long, long I read — and devoutly, devoutly I gazed. 
Rapidly and gloriously the hours flew by and the deep 
midnight came. The position of the candelabrum dis- 
pleased me, and outreaching my hand with difficulty, 
rather than disturb my slumbering valet, I placed it so as 
to throw its rays more fully upon the book. 

But the action produced an effect altogether unantici- 
pated. The rays of the numerous candles (for there were 
many) now fell within a niche of the room which had 
hitherto been thrown into deep shade by one of the bed- 
posts. I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed 
before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening 
into womanhood. I glanced at the painting hurriedly, 
and then closed my eyes. Why I did this was not at first 
apparent even to my own perception. But while my lids 
remained thus shut, I ran over in mind my reason for 
so shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to gain 
time for thought — to make sure that my vision had not 
deceived me — to calm and subdue my fancy for a more 



THE OVAL PORTRAIT. $47 

sober and more certain gaze. In a very few moments I 
again looked fixedly at the painting. 

That I now saw aright I could not and would not 
doubt ; for the first flashing of the candles upon that can- 
vas had seemed to dissipate the dreamy stupor which was 
stealing over my senses, and to startle me at once into 
waking life. 

The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young 
girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done in what is 
technically termed a vignette manner ; much in the style 
of the favorite heads of Sully. The arms, the bosom, and 
even the ends of the radiant hair melted imperceptibly 
into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the back- 
ground of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded 
and filigreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing 
could be more admirable than the painting itself. But it 
could have been neither the execution of the work, nor 
the immortal beauty of the countenance, which had so 
suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least of all, 
could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half 
slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living per- 
son. I saw at once that the peculiarities of the design, of 
the vignetting, and of the frame, must have instantly dis- 
pelled such idea — must have prevented even its momen- 
tary entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon these points, 
I remained, for an hour perhaps, half sitting, half reclining, 
with my vision riveted upon the portrait. At length, sat- 
isfied with the true secret of its effect, I fell back within 



54^ THE OVAL PORTRAIT. 

the bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an abso- 
lute life-likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, 
finally confounded, subdued, and appalled me. With deep 
and reverent awe I replaced the candelabrum in its former 
position. The cause of my deep agitation being thus shut 
from view, I sought eagerly the volume which discussed 
the paintings and their histories. Turning to the number 
which designated the oval portrait, I there read the vague 
and quaint words which follow : 

" She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more 
lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she 
saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, 
studious, austere, and having already a bride in his Art : 
she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than 
full of glee ; all light and smiles, and frolicsome as the 
young fawn ; loving and cherishing all things ; hating only 
the Art which was her rival ; dreading only the pallet and 
brushes and other untoward instruments which deprived 
her of the countenance of her lover. It was thus a terri- 
ble thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of his de- 
sire to portray even his young bride. But she was humble 
and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark 
high turret-chamber where the light dripped upon the 
pale canvas only from overhead. But he, the painter, 
took glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour, 
and from day to day. And he was a passionate, and wild, 
and moody man, who became lost in reveries ; so that he 
would not see that the light which fell so ghastly in that 



THE OVAL PORTRAIT. 549 

lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, 
who pined visibly to all but him. Yet she smiled on and 
still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter 
(who had high renown) took a fervid and burning pleasure 
in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who 
so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and 
weak. And in sooth some who beheld the portrait spoke 
of its resemblance in low words, as of a mighty marvel, 
and a proof not less of the power of the painter than of 
his deep love for her whom he depicted so surpassingly 
well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its con- 
clusion, there were admitted none into the turret ; for the 
painter had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and 
turned his eyes from the canvas rarely, even to regard the 
countenance of his wife. And he would not see that the 
tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from 
the cheeks of her who sat beside him. And when many 
weeks had passed, and but little remained to do, save one 
brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the 
spirit of the lady again flickered up as tjie flame within 
the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, 
and then the tint was placed ; and, for one moment, the 
painter stood entranced before the work which he had 
wrought ; but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew 
tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a 
loud voice, ' This is indeed Life itself ! ' turned suddenly 
to regard his beloved : — She was dead ! n 




THE ASSIGNATION. 



Stay for me there ! I will not fail 
To meet thee in that hollow vale. 

f Exequy on the death of his wife, by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester.~\ 



ILL-FATED and mysterious man ! — bewildered in the 
brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in 
the flames of thine own youth ! Again in fancy I behold 
thee! Once more thy form hath risen before me ! — not 
— oh ! not as thou art — in the cold valley and shadow — 
but as thou shouldst be — squandering away a life of mag- 
nificent meditation in that city of dim visions, thine own 
Venice — which is a star-beloved Elysium of the sea, and 
the wide windows of whose Palladian palaces look down 
with a deep and bitter meaning upon the secrets of her 
silent waters. Yes ! I repeat it — as thou shouldst be. 
There are surely other worlds than this — other thoughts 
than the thoughts of the multitude — other speculations 
than the speculations of the sophist. Who then shall call 
thy conduct into question ? who blame thee for thy 
visionary hours, or denounce those occupations as a wast- 

55o 



THE A S SIGN A TION. 5 5 I 

ing away of life, which were but the overflowings of thine 
everlasting energies? 

It was at Venice, beneath the covered archway there 
called the Ponte di Sospiri, that I met, for the third or 
fourth time the person of whom I speak. It is with a 
confused recollection that I bring to mind the circum- 
stances of that meeting. Yet I remember — ah ! how 
should I forget ? — the deep midnight, the Bridge of Sighs, 
the beauty of woman, and the Genius of Romance that 
stalked up and down the narrow canal. 

It was a night of unusual gloom. The great clock of 
the Piazza had sounded the fifth hour of the Italian even- 
ing. The square of the Campanile lay silent and deserted, 
and the lights in the old Ducal Palace were dying fast 
away. I was returning home from the Piazetta, by way 
of the Grand Canal. But as 'my gondola arrived opposite 
the mouth of the canal San Marco, a female voice from 
its recesses broke suddenly upon the night, in one wild, 
hysterical, and long-continued shriek. Startled at the 
sound, I sprang upon my feet ; while the gondolier, letting 
slip his single oar, lost it in the pitchy darkness beyond a 
chance of recovery, and we were consequently left to the 
guidance of the current which here sets from the greater 
into the smaller channel. Like some huge and sable- 
feathered condor, we were slowly drifting down toward 
the Bridge of Sighs, when a thousand flambeaux flashing 
from the windows, and down the staircases of the Ducal 
Palace, turned all at once that deep gloom into a livid 
and preternatural day. 



552 THE ASSIGNATION. 

A child, slipping from the arms of its own mother, had 
fallen from an upper window of the lofty structure into 
the deep and dim canal. The quiet waters had closed 
placidly over their victim ; and, although my own gondola 
was the only one in sight, many a stout swimmer, already 
in the stream, was seeking in vain upon the surface, the 
treasure which was to be found, alas ! only within the 
abyss. Upon the broad black marble flagstones at the 
entrance of the palace, and a few steps above the water, 
stood a figure which none who then saw can have 
ever since forgotten. It was the Marchesa Aphrodite — 
the adoration of all Venice — the gayest of the gay — the 
most lovely where all were beautiful — but still the young 
wife of the old and intriguing Mentoni, and the mother of 
that fair child, her first and only one, who now, deep 
beneath the murky water, was thinking in bitterness of 
heart upon her sweet caresses, and exhausting its little 
life in struggles to call upon her name. 

She stood alone. Her small, bare and silvery feet 
gleamed in the black mirror of marble beneath her. Her 
hair, not as yet more than half loosened for the night 
from its ball-room array, clustered, amid a shower of 
diamonds, round and round her classical head, in curls 
like those of the young hyacinth. A snowy-white and 
gauze-like drapery seemed to be nearly the sole covering 
to her delicate form ; but the mid-summer and midnight 
air was hot, sullen, and still, and no motion in the statue- 
like form itself, stirred even the folds of that raiment of 



THE ASSIGNATION. 553 

very vapor which hung around it as the heavy marble 
hangs around the Niobe. Yet — strange to say ! — her 
large lustrous eyes were not turned downward upon that 
grave wherein her brightest hope lay buried — but riveted 
in a widely different direction ! The prison of the Old 
Republic is, I think, the stateliest building in all Venice — 
but how could that lady gaze so fixedly upon it, when be- 
neath her lay stifling her own child ? Yon dark, gloomy 
niche, too, yawns right opposite her chamber window — 
what, then, could there be in its shadows — in its architect- 
ure — in its ivy-wreathed and solemn cornices — that the 
Marchesa di Mentoni had not wondered at a thousand 
times before ? Nonsense ! — Who does not remember 
that, at such a time as this, the eye, like a shattered 
mirror, multiplies the images of its sorrow, and sees in 
innumerable far-off places, the woe which is close at 
hand ? 

Many steps above the Marchesa, and within the arch of 
the water-gate, stood, in full dress, the Satyr-like figure of 
Mentoni himself. He was occasionally occupied in thrum- 
ming a guitar, and seemed ennuye to the very death, as at 
intervals he gave directions for the recovery of his 
child. Stupefied and aghast, I had myself no power to 
move from the upright position I had assumed upon first 
hearing the shriek, and must have presented to the eyes of 
the agitated group a spectral and ominous appearance, as 
with pale countenance and rigid limbs, I floated down 
among them in that funereal gondola. 



554 THE ASSIGNATION. 

All efforts proved in vain. Many of the most energetic 
in the search were relaxing their exertions, and yielding 
to a gloomy sorrow. There seemed but little hope for the 
child ; (how much less than for the mother !) but now, 
from the interior of that dark niche which has been already 
mentioned as forming a part of the Old Republican prison, 
and as fronting the lattice of the Marchesa, a figure 
muffled in a cloak, stepped out within reach of the light, 
and, pausing a moment upon the verge of the giddy 
descent, plunged headlong into the canal. As, in an 
instant afterward, he stood with the still living and breath- 
ing child within his grasp, upon the marble flagstones by 
the side of the Marchesa, his cloak, heavy with the drench- 
ing water, became unfastened, and, falling in folds about 
his feet, discovered to the wonder-stricken spectators the 
graceful person of a very young man, with the sound 
of whose name the greater part of Europe was then 
ringing. 

No word spoke the deliverer. But the Marchesa ! She 
will now receive her child — she will press it to her heart — 
she will cling to its little form, and smother it with her 
caresses. Alas ! another's arms have taken it from the 
stranger — another's arms have taken it away, and borne it 
afar off, unnoticed, into the palace ! And the Marchesa ! 
Her lip — her beautiful lip trembles ; tears are gathering 
in her eyes — those eyes which, like Pliny's acanthus, are 
"soft and almost liquid." Yes! tears are gathering in 
those eyes — and see ! the entire woman thrills throughout 






THE ASSIGNATION. 555 

the soul, and the statue has started into life ! The pallor 
of the marble countenance, the swelling of the marble 
bosom, the very purity of the marble feet, we behold sud- 
denly flushed over with a tide of ungovernable crimson ; 
and a slight shudder quivers about her delicate frame, 
as a gentle air at Napoli about the rich silver lilies in the 
grass. 

Why should that lady blush ! To this demand there is 
no answer — except that, having left, in the eager haste 
and terror of a mother's heart, the privacy of her own 
boudoir, she has neglected to enthral her tiny feet in their 
slippers, and utterly forgotten to throw over her Venetian 
shoulders that drapery which is their due. What other 
possible reason could there have been for her so blushing? 
— for the glance of those wild appealing eyes? — for the 
unusual tumult of that throbbing bosom ? — for the con- 
vulsive pressure of that trembling hand ? — that hand which 
fell, as Mentoni turned into the palace, accidentally, upon 
the hand of the stranger. What reason could there have 
been for the low — the singularly low tone of those un- 
meaning words which the lady uttered hurriedly in bidding 
him adieu ? " Thou hast conquered," she said, or the 
murmurs of the water deceived me ; " thou hast con- 
quered — one hour after sunrise — we shall meet — so let 

it be ! " 

# * * # * * 

The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away 
within the palace, and the stranger, whom I now recog- 



556 THE ASSIGNATION. 

nizcd, stood alone upon the flags. He shook with incon- 
ceivable agitation, and his eye glanced around in search 
of a gondola. I could not do less than offer him the ser- 
vice of my own ; and he accepted the civility. Having 
obtained an oar at the water-gate, we proceeded together 
to his residence, while he rapidly recovered his self- 
possession, and spoke of our former slight acquaintance in 
terms of great apparent cordiality. 

There are some subjects upon which I take pleasure in 
being minute. The person of the stranger — let me call 
him by this title, who to all the world was still a stranger 
— the person of the stranger is one of these subjects. In 
height he might have been below rather than above the 
medium size : although there were moments of intense 
passion when his frame actually exparided and belied the 
assertion. The light, almost slender symmetry of his 
figure promised more of that ready activity which he 
evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean 
strength which he has been known to wield without an 
effort, upon occasions of more dangerous emergency. 
With the mouth and chin of a deity — singular, wild, full, 
liquid eyes, whose shadows varied from pure hazel to in- 
tense and brilliant jet — and a profusion of curling, black 
hair, from which a forehead of unusual breadth gleamed 
forth at intervals all light and ivory — his were features 
than which I have seen none more classically regular, ex- 
cept, perhaps, the marble ones of the Emperor Commodus. 
Yet his countenance was, nevertheless, one of those 



THE ASSIGNATION. 557 

which all men have seen at some period of their lives, and 
have never afterward seen again. It had no peculiar, it 
had no settled predominant expression to be fastened 
upon the memory ; a countenance seen and instantly for- 
gotten, but forgotten with a vague and never-ceasing 
desire of recalling it to mind. Not that the spirit of each 
rapid passion failed, at any time, to throw its own distinct 
image upon the mirror of that face — but that the mirror, 
mirror-like, retained no vestige of the passion, when the 
passion had departed. 

Upon leaving him on the night of our adventure, he 
solicited me, in what I thought an urgent manner, to call 
upon him very early the next morning. Shortly after 
sunrise, I found myself accordingly at his Palazzo, one of 
those huge structures of gloomy yet fantastic pomp, 
which tower above the waters of the Grand Canal in the 
vicinity of the Rialto. I was shown up a broad winding 
staircase of mosaics, into an apartment whose unparalleled 
splendor burst through the opening door with an actual 
glare, making me blind and dizzy with luxuriousness. 

I knew my acquaintance to be wealthy. Report had 
spoken of his possessions in terms which I had even 
ventured to call terms of ridiculous exaggeration. But 
as I gazed about me, I could not bring myself to believe 
that the wealth of any subject in Europe could have 
supplied the princely magnificence which burned and 
blazed around. 

Although, as I say, the sun had arisen, yet the room 



55 8 THE ASSIGNATION, 

was still brilliantly lighted up. I judge from this circum- 
stance, as well as from an air of exhaustion in the coun- 
tenance of my friend, that he had not retired to bed 
during the whole of the preceding night. In the archi- 
tecture and embellishments of the chamber, the evident 
design had been to dazzle and astound. Little attention 
had been paid to the decora of what is technically called 
keeping, or to the proprieties of nationality. The eye 
wandered from object to object, and rested upon none — 
neither the grotesques of the Greek painters, nor the 
sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge carvings 
of untutored Egypt. Rich draperies in every part of the 
room trembled to the vibration of low, melancholy music, 
whose origin was not to be discovered. The senses were 
oppressed by mingled and conflicting perfumes, reeking 
up from strange convolute censers, together with multi- 
tudinous flaring and flickering tongues of emerald and 
violet fire. The rays of the newly risen sun poured in 
upon the whole, through windows, formed each of a single 
pane of crimson-tinted glass. Glancing to and fro, in a 
thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled from their 
cornices like cataracts of molten silver, the beams of 
natural glory mingled at length fitfully with the artificial 
light, and lay weltering in subdued masses upon a carpet 
of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili gold. 

"Ha! ha! ha! — ha! ha! ha!" — laughed the propri- 
etor, motioning me to a seat as I entered the room, and 
throwing himself back at full-length upon an ottoman. 



THE ASSIGNATION. 559 

" I see/' said he, perceiving that I could not immediately 
reconcile myself to the biense'ance of so singular a welcome, 
— "I see you are astonished at my apartment — at my 
statues — my pictures — my originality of conception in 
architecture and upholstery! absolutely drunk, eh, with 
my magnificence ? But pardon me, my dear sir; (here his 
tone of voice dropped to the very spirit of cordiality,) 
pardon me for my uncharitable laughter. You appeared 
so utterly astonished. Besides, some things are so com- 
pletely ludicrous, that a man must laugh, or die. To die 
laughing must be the most glorious of all glorious deaths ! 
Sir Thomas More — a very fine man was Sir Thomas More 
— Sir Thomas More died laughing, you remember. Also 
in the ' Absurdities ' of Ravisius Textor, there is a long list 
of characters who came to the same magnificent end. Do 
you know, however," continued he, musingly, "that at 
Sparta (which is now Palseochori), at Sparta, I say, to the 
west of the citadel, among a chaos of scarcely visible 
ruins, is a kind of socle, upon which are still legible the let- 
ters AAEM. They are undoubtedly part of TEAASMA. 
Now, at Sparta were a thousand temples and shrines to a 
thousand different divinities. How exceedingly strange 
that the altar of Laughter should have survived all the 
others ! But in the present instance," he resumed, with a 
singular alteration of voice and manner, " I have no right 
to be merry at your expense. You might well have been 
amazed. Europe cannot produce any thing so fine as 
this, my little regal cabinet. My other apartments are by 



$6o THE ASSIGNATION. 

no means of the same order — mere ultras of fashionable 
insipidity. This is better than fashion — is it not? Yet 
this has but to be seen to become the rage — that is, with 
those who could afford it at the cost of their entire patri- 
mony. I have guarded, however, against any such profa- 
nation. With one exception, you are the only human 
being, besides myself and my valet, who has been admitted 
within the mysteries of these imperial precincts, since 
they have been bedizened as you see ! " 

I bowed in acknowledgment — for the overpowering 
sense of splendor and perfume and music, together with 
the unexpected eccentricity of his address and manner, 
prevented me from expressing, in words, my appreciation 
of what I might have construed into a compliment. 

" Here," he resumed, arising and leaning on my arm as 
he sauntered around the apartment, " here are paintings 
from the Greeks to Cimabue, and from Cimabue to the 
present hour. Many are chosen, as you see, with little 
deference to the opinions of Virtu. They are all, how- 
ever, fitting tapestry for a chamber such as this. Here, 
too, are some chef-d 1 ceuvres of the unknown great ; and 
here, unfinished designs by men, celebrated in their day, 
whose very names the perspicacity of the academies has 
left to silence and to me. What think you," said he, 
turning abruptly as he spoke, — " what think you of this 
Madonna della Pieta ? " 

" It is Guido's own ! " I said, with all the enthusiasm of 
my nature, for I had been poring intently over its sur- 



THE A S SIGN A TION. 5 6 1 

passing loveliness. " It is Guido's own ! — how could you 
have obtained it ? she is undoubtedly in painting what 
the Venus is in sculpture." 

" Ha ! " said he, thoughtfully, " the Venus ? — the beauti- 
ful Venus? — the Venus of the Medici? — she of the 
diminutive head and the gilded hair? Part of the left 
arm [here his voice dropped so as to be heard with diffi- 
culty], and all the right, are restorations, and in the 
coquetry of that right arm lies, I think, the quintessence 
of all affectation. Give me the Canova ! The Apollo, 
too, is a copy — there can be no doubt of it — blind fool 
that I am, who cannot behold the boasted inspiration of 
the Apollo ! I cannot help — pity me ! — I cannot help 
preferring the Antinous. Was it not Socrates who said 
that the statuary found his statue in the block of marble ? 
Then Michael Angelo was by no means original in his 
couplet — 

1 Non ha 1* ottimo artista alcun concetto 
Che un marmo solo in se non circunscriva.' " 

It has been, or should be remarked, that, in the manner 
of the true gentleman, we are always aware of a difference 
from the bearing of the vulgar, without being at once 
precisely able to determine in what such difference con- 
sists. Allowing the remark to have applied in its full 
force to the outward demeanor of my acquaintance, I felt 
it, on that eventful morning, still more fully applicable to 
his moral temperament and character. Nor can I better 
define that peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place 



5^2 THE ASSIGNATION. 

him so essentially apart from all other human beings, 
than by calling it a habit of intense and continual 
thought, pervading even his most trivial actions — in- 
truding upon his moments of dalliance — and inter- 
weaving itself with his very flashes of merriment — like 
adders which writhe from out the eyes of the grinning 
masks in the cornices around the temples of Persepolis. 

I could hot help, however, repeatedly observing, through 
the mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he 
rapidly descanted upon matters of little importance, a 
certain air of trepidation — a degree of nervous unction in 
action and in speech — an unquiet excitability of manner 
which appeared to me at all times unaccountable, and 
upon some occasions even filled me with alarm. Fre- 
quently, too, pausing in the middle of a sentence whose 
commencement he had apparently forgotten, he seemed 
to be listening in the deepest attention, as if either in 
momentary expectation of a visitor, or to sounds which 
must have had existence in his imagination alone. 

It was during one of these reveries or pauses of appar- 
ent abstraction, that, in turning over a page of the poet 
and scholar Politian's beautiful tragedy, " The Orfeo " 
(the first native Italian tragedy), which lay near me upon 
an ottoman, I discovered a passage underlined in pencil. 
It was a passage toward the end of the third act — a pas- 
sage of the most heart-stirring excitement — a passage 
which, although tainted with impurity, no man shall read 
without a thrill of novel emotion — no woman without a 



THE ASSIGNATION. 563 

sigh. The whole page was blotted with fresh tears ; and, 
upon the opposite interleaf, were the following English 
lines, written in a hand so very different from the pecul- 
iar characters of my acquaintance, that I had some diffi- 
culty in recognizing it as his own : 



Thou wast that all to me, love, 
For which my soul did pine — 

A green isle in the sea, love, 
A fountain and a shrine, 

All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers ; 
And all the flowers were mine. 



Ah, dream too bright to last ! 

Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise 
But to be overcast ! 

A voice from out the Future cries, 
" Onward ! " — but o'er the Past 

(Dim gulf !) my spirit hovering lies, 
Mute — motionless — aghast ! 



For alas ! alas ! with me 

The light of life is o'er. 
" No more — no more — no more, 

(Such language holds the solemn sea 
To the sands upon the shore,) 

Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, 
Or the stricken eagle soar ! 



Now all my hours are trances ; 

And all my nightly dreams 
Are where the dark eye glances, 

And where thy footstep gleams 
In what ethereal dances, 

By what Italian streams. 



564 THE ASSIGNATION. 

Alas ! for that accursed time 

They bore thee o'er the billow, 
From Love to titled age and crime, 

And an unholy pillow ! — 
From me, and from our misty clime, 

Where weeps the silver willow ! 

That these lines were written in English — a language 
with which I had not believed their author acquainted — 
afforded me little matter for surprise. I was too well 
aware of the extent of his acquirements, and of the sin- 
gular pleasure he took in concealing them from observa- 
tion, to be astonished at any similar discovery ; but the place 
of date, I must confess, occasioned me no little amaze- 
ment. It had been originally London, and afterward 
carefully overscored — not, however, so effectually as to 
conceal the word from a scrutinizing eye. I say, this occa- 
sioned me no little amazement ; for I well remember that, 
in a former conversation with my friend, I particularly in- 
quired if he had at any time met in London the Marchesa 
di Mentoni (who for some years previous to her marriage 
had resided in that city), when his answer, if I mistake 
not, gave me to understand that he had never visited the 
metropolis of Great Britain. I might as well here men- 
tion, that I have more than once heard, (without, of 
course, giving credit to a report involving so many im- 
probabilities,) that the person of whom I speak, was not 

only by birth, but in education, an Englishman, 

****** 

" There is one painting," said he, without being aware 



THE A S SIGN A TION. 565 

of my notice of the tragedy, — " there is still one painting 
which you have not seen." And throwing aside a drapery, 
he discovered a full-length portrait of the Marchesa 
Aphrodite. 

Human art could have done no more in the delineation 
of her superhuman beauty. The same ethereal figure 
which stood before me the preceding night upon the steps 
of the Ducal Palace, stood before me once again. But in 
the expression of the countenance, which was beaming all 
over with smiles, there still lurked (incomprehensible 
anomaly !) that fitful stain of melancholy which will ever 
be found inseparable from the perfection of the beautiful. 
Her right arm lay folded over her bosom. With her left 
she pointed downward to a curiously fashioned vase. One 
small, fairy foot, alone visible, barely touched the earth ; 
and, scarcely discernible in the billiant atmosphere which 
seemed to encircle and enshrine her loveliness, floated a 
pair of the most delicately imagined wings. My glance 
fell from the painting to the figure of my friend, and the 
vigorous words of Chapman's Bussy D'Ambois, quivered 
instinctively upon my lips: 

" He is up 
There like a Roman statue ! He will stand 
Till Death hath made him marble ! " 

" Come," he said at length, turning toward a table of 
richly enamelled and massive silver, upon which were a 
few goblets fantastically stained, together with two large 
Etruscan vases, fashioned in the same extraordinary 



5 66 THE ASSIGNATION. 

model as that in the foreground of the portrait, and filled 
with what I supposed to be Johannisberger. " Come," he 
said, abruptly, "let us drink! It is early — but let us 
drink. It is indeed early," he continued, musingly, as a 
cherub with a heavy golden hammer made the apartment 
ring with the first hour after sunrise : " it is indeed early — 
but what matters it ? let us drink ! Let us pour out an 
offering to yon solemn sun which these gaudy lamps and 
censers are so eager to subdue ! " And having made me 
pledge him in a bumper, he swallowed in rapid succession 
several goblets of the wine. 

" To dream," he continued, resuming the tone of his 
desultory conversation, as he held up to the rich light of 
a censer one of the magnificent vases — "to dream has 
been the business of my life, I have therefore framed for 
myself, as you see, a bower of dreams. In the heart of 
Venice could I have erected a better? You behold 
around you, it is true, a medly of architectural embellish- 
ments. The chastity of Ionia is offended by antediluvian 
devices, and the sphynxes of Egypt are outstretched upon 
carpets of gold. Yet the effect is incongruous to the 
timid alone. Proprieties of place, and especially of time, 
are the bugbears which terrify mankind from the contem- 
plation of the magnificent. Once I was myself a decorist ; 
but that sublimation of folly has palled upon my soul. 
All this is now the fitter for my purpose. Like these 
arabesque censers, my spirit is writhing in fire, and the 
delirium of this scene is fashioning me for the wilder 



THE ASSIGNATION. 567 

visions of that land of real dreams whither I am now 
rapidly departing." He here paused abruptly, bent his 
head to his bosom, and seemed to listen to a sound which 
I could not hear. At length, erecting his frame, he looked 
upwards, and ejaculated the lines of the Bishop of Chi- 
chester: 

1 ' Stay for me there ! I will not fail 
To meet thee in that hollow vale." 

In the next instant, confessing the power of the wine, he 
threw himself at full length upon an ottoman. 

A quick step was now heard upon the staircase, and a 
loud knock at the door rapidly succeeded. I was hasten- 
ing to anticipate a second disturbance, when a page of 
Mentoni's household burst into the room, and faltered 
out, in a voice choking with emotion, the incoherent 
words, " My mistress ! — my mistress ! — Poisoned I — 
poisoned ! Oh, beautiful — oh, beautiful Aphrodite ! " 

Bewildered, I flew to the ottoman, and endeavored to 
arouse the sleeper to a sense of the startling intelligence. 
But his limbs were rigid — his lips were livid — his lately 
beaming eyes were riveted in death. I staggered back 
toward the table — my hand fell upon a cracked and 
blackened goblet — and a consciousness of the entire and 
terrible truth flashed suddenly over my soul. 




THE TELL-TALE HEART. 



TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I 
had been and am ; but why will you say that I 
am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not 
destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of 
hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in 
the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am 
I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily — how 
calmly I can tell you the whole story. 

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my 
brain ; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. 
Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved 
the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never 
given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think 
it was his eye ! yes, it was this ! One of his eyes re- 
sembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film 
over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold ; 
and so by degrees — very gradually — I made up my mind 
to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the 



^ eye for ever, 



Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen 

563 



THE TELL-TALE LIE ART. 569 

know nothing. But you should have seen me. You 
should have seen how wisely I proceeded — with what 
caution — with what foresight — with what dissimulation I 
went to work ! I was never kinder to the old man than 
during the whole week before I killed him. And every 
night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and 
opened it — oh, so gently ! And then, when I had made 
an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark la ntern, 
all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I 
thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see 
how cunningly I thrust it in ! I moved it slowly — very, 
very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's 
sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within 
the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon 
his bed. Ha ! — would a madman have been so wise as 
this ? And then, when my head was well in the room, I 
undid the lantern cautiously — oh, so cautiously — cau- 
tiously (for the hinges creaked) — I undid it just so much 
that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And 
this I did for seven long nights — every night just at mid- 
night — but I found the eye always closed ; and so it was 
impossible to do the work ; for it was not the old man 
who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, 
when the^day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and 
spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a 
hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. 
So you see he would have been a very profound old man, 
indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I 
looked in upon him while he slept. 



5/0 THE TELL-TALE HEART. 

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious 
in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more 
quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I. felt 
the extent of my own powers — of my sagacity. I could 
scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that 
there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not 
even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly 
chuckled at the idea ; and perhaps he heard me ; for he 
moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may 
think that I drew back — but no. His room was as black 
as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were 
close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew 
that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept 
pushing it on steadily, steadily. 

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, 
when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the 
old man sprang up in the bed, crying out — " Who 's 
there ? " 

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I 
did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not 
hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed 
listening ; — just as I have done, night after night, heark- 
ening to the death watches in the wall. 

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the 
groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of 
grief — oh, no ! — it was the low stifled sound that arises 
from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. 
I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, 



THE TELL-TALE HEART. 57 1 

when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own 
bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that 
distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the 
old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at 
heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since 
the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His 
fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had 
been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He 
had been saying to himself — " It is nothing but the wind 
in the chimney — it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or 
" it is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." , 
Yes, he has been trying to comfort himself with these 
suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. All in vain ; 
because Deaths in approaching him, had stalked with his 
black shadow before him, and_enyelaped,lhe. victim,. And 
it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow 
that caused him to feel — although he neither saw nor 
heard — to feci the presence of my head within the room. 

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without 
hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little — a very, 
very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it — you 
cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily — until, at length, 
a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from 
out the crevice and full upon the vulture eye. 

It was open — wide, wide open — and I grew furious as I 
gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness — all a 
dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very 
marrow in my bones ; but I could see nothing else of the 



572 THE TELL-TALE HEART. 

old man's face or person : for I had directed the ray as if 
by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot. 

And now have I not told you that what you mistake 
for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses ? — now, I 
say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such 
as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that 
sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's 
heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum 
stimulates the soldier into courage. 

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely 
breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how 
steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Mean- 
time the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew 
quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. 
The old man's terror must have been extreme ! It grew 
louder, I say, louder every moment ! — do you mark me 
well ? I have told you that I am nervous : so I am. And 
now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful 
silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited 
me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer 
I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, 
louder ! I thought the heart must burst. And now a 
new anxiety seized me — the sound would be heard by a 
neighbor ! The old man's hour had come ! With a loud 
yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. 
He shrieked once — once only. In an instant I dragged 
him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I 
then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for 



THE TELL-TALE HEART. 573 

many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. 
This, however, did not vex me ; it would not be heard 
through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man 
was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. 
Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon 
the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no 
pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble 
me no more. 

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer 
when I describe the wise precautions I took for the con- 
cealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked 
hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the 
corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. 

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the 
chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then 
replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no 
human eye — not even his — could have detected any thing 
wrong. There was nothing to wash out — no stain of any 
kind — no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for 
that. A tub had caught all — ha ! ha ! 

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four 
o'clock — still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the 
hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went 
down to open it with a light heart, — for what had I now 
to fear? There entered three men, who introduced them- 
selves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A 
shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night ; 
suspicion of foul play had been aroused ; information had 



574 THE TELL-TALE HEART. 

been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) 
had been deputed to search the premises. 

I smiled, — for ™hgt hnii T to fea 1 *? I bade the gentle- 
men welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a 
dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the 
country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade 
them search — search zvell. I led them, at length, to his 
chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undis- 
turbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought 
chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest froi 
their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my 
perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot 
beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim. 

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced 
them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I 
answered cheerily, they chatted familiar things. But, ere 
long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. 
My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears : but 
still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more 
distinct : — it continued and became more distinct : I 
talked more freely to get rid of the feeling : but it con- 
tinued and gained definitiveness — until, at length, I found 
that the noise was not within my ears. 

No doubt I now grew very pale ; — but I talked more 
fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound in- 
creased — and what could I do ? It was a low, dull, quick 
sound — much such a sound as a watch makes when envel- 
oped in cotton. I gasped for breath — and yet the officers 



THE TELL-TALE LIE ART. 575 

heard it not. I talked more quickly — more vehemently ; 
but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about 
trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations , but 
the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be 
gone ? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as 
if excited to fury by the observation of the men — but the 
noise steadily increased. fOh God! what could I do? I 
foamed — I raved — I swore ! I swung the chair upon 
which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, 
but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It 
grew louder — louder — louder / And still the men chatted 
pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not ? 
Almighty God ! — no, no ! They heard ! — they suspected ! 
— they knew /—they were making a mockery of my hor- 
ror ! — this I thought, and this I think. But any thing 
was better than this agony ! Any thing was more tolera-- 
ble than this derision ! I could bear those hypocritical 
smiles no longer ! I felt that I must scream or die ! — and 
now — again ! — hark ! louder ! louder ! louder ! louder !— 
" Villains! " I shrieked, " dissemble no more! I admit 
the deed? — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the ,.- 
beating of his hideous heartjjll . ' v J 



JA 



21 1049 







PS 2600 .E84 v.2 SMC 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 

1809-1849. 
The works of Edgar Allan 

Poe; 
AKF-2103 (ab) 



£ 



: x 



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